GTO’s Sarah Jeffery recently visited Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset. Open every day of the year except Christmas Day, the rescue centre has assisted governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild since it was set up by Jim Cronin in 1987.
Monkey World was originally created to provide a home for abused chimpanzees used as props by Spanish beach photographers, but is now home to many different species of primates including capuchins and orangutans. Featured on TV’s ‘Monkey Life’ and ‘Monkey Business’ the 65-acre site provides sanctuary for rescued and endangered primates from around the world.
Sarah was especially impressed with the large spacious enclosures that each group had and loved watching the adorable toddlers playing in the orangutan nursery!
During her visit, Sarah fell in love with a chimp called Naree. Jim and Alison Cronin first found Naree working in a circus in 2003 and were desperate to help her, but the park would not let her go. She had been taken from the wild and smuggled into Thailand for a circus show; made to perform by pulling an orangutan and a tiger around the ring in a rickshaw.
Naree has facial deformities, and only four molar teeth remaining, as the rest were forcibly removed so she couldn’t bite handlers or tourists. Naree was seized by Thai authorities in 2005 and moved to a wildlife centre as her previous mistreatment meant Naree could not be released back into the wild. However, thanks to the Thai authorities, Tai and UK CITES offices, Love Wildlife Thailand and the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund for Primate Welfare & Conservation, Naree arrived at the park in October 2018 and lives happily as part of Bryan’s group; one of the four chimpanzee groups at the centre.
Visitors to the centre can book a personal talk and guided tours of the park by their Education Officers. The guided tours take visitors on a 1 hour 15-minute walking tour through the 65-acre park, detailing the history of the park and the centre’s mission to end the illegal smuggling of primates from the wild. During the tour visitors will learn the stories behind the primates’ rescues, explaining their transition from cruelty and abuse to their rehabilitation into appropriate social groups and large, natural enclosures.
- There is both an indoor and outdoor café on site, offering hot and cold meals.
- Group Rates are available for 10+ people
- Visitors can support Monkey World in continuing their rescue and rehabilitation work by adopting a primate, giving free entry to the park every day for a whole year!
- Tours should be booked in advance on 01929 462537.
- Mobility scooters and wheelchairs are available to hire.
For more information on visiting go to monkeyworld.org