One Family's Crusade to Help Primates

n the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, in a suburb like that outside major cities the world over, lives a very special family dedicated to helping primates. Beyond two huge gates, past five or six small and incredibly affectionate dogs, and through Elba and Carlos Almazan's own home is a refuge for 91 monkeys: Siglo XXI (21st Century), a center for the rescue and rehabilitation of primates.

Siglo XXI provides permanent sanctuary for primates rescued from the illegal pet trade in South America or who are currently living in deprived conditions in captivity. The monkeys come from, or are destined for, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and, of course, Chile. Sometimes gypsy families abandon these animals, or they are confiscated from laboratories. Tamarins, squirrel monkeys and woolly monkeys, are among the inhabitants at the sanctuary.

Monkeys at the facility are housed in a huge backyard city of linked enclosures that provide escape routes for animals who wish to be alone but also present an opportunity for companionship when it is sought. Baskets hang or rest within arms reach of the outside of the enclosures offering ready access to fruits and vegetables, especially cut apples. Inside the enclosures are toys, hanging tire swings, and even hammocks for the enjoyment of the sanctuary's residents.

Twin veterinarians make house calls to heal the animals, many of whom need serious medical attention from wounds suffered as a result of horrible transport conditions or cruel laboratory settings. The work is done right inside the house.

Siglo XXI educates the public about primate welfare, conservation issues, and in particular the inherent cruelty of the illegal trade and keeping primates as pets. The subject is of great interest to the Chilean public, and Siglo XXI has received much media coverage for their laudable work. School visits to the center are popular as well.

Unfortunately, the limited space of the sanctuary site meant that Siglo XXI could not cope with the demand by schools and colleges for greater visitation. As well, they ran out of space to satisfy the number of animals in need of a home-especially urgent since Mr. and Mrs. Almazan have pledged to help house additional confiscated pet and circus primates.

Thus, the couple has undertaken an ambitious expansion project. A beautiful new sprawling plot of land has already been bought to continue their vital work, and they have begun building the enclosures there.

Mr. Almazan is a practicing pediatrician who invests much of his earnings into the rescue center-he and his wife fund the ongoing care for the animals at a cost of about $3,000 a month. Additional funds are needed, however, for the enclosure construction at the new site. AWI has provided assistance for the erection of a security fence on the perimeter of the new property, which will run along a small river.

Without Siglo XXI there is no appropriate sanctuary in Chile available for these needy primates. If you would like to help ensure that the new facility is fully operational, please send a check payable to AWI with a note in the memo line: "for Siglo XXI." All donations will be sent to the sanctuary together. For additional information contact adam@awionline.org.