I signed up to volunteer at the Monkey Sanctuary for a day with FXU Community Action. We were lucky as it was a lovely day. I managed to surf their website earlier to understand more about this sanctuary. I thought it was a sanctuary where people come and see monkeys in UK since monkeys are not native in this country. When I was looking at the gallery on the website, I was wondering what kind of monkeys I would be seeing there. All I know is none of them looked familiar to those I see back in Malaysia. To my surprise, they also have bat cave and wildlife garden over there. I was pretty excited about going there after a quick browse through the website. It took us almost 2 hours to reach the Monkey Sanctuary. I was feeling real carsick when we reached. However, I quickly recovered, thanks to the breathtaking scenery of the calm blue sea. Nature has its role in soothing our feelings and emotions in its own way.
We were briefed about the sanctuary and pet trade in the UK. I have to admit that I was shocked to find out that there are more than 5000 monkeys being kept as pets here. They are kept in cages, staying inside apartments or houses. I have to say, it sounds so wrong! I never thought anyone would keep monkeys in cages! They are wild animals which do not serve well as pets, compared to dogs and cats. Worse, growing up in cages deter their development, which causes them to grow up having health problems such as poor bone structure, teeth decay, diabetes, as well as not having the instinct and survival skills to live in the nature. As they are wild and aggressive, many owners tend to give them up when they grow bigger and older as they are no longer the cute babies. Worse, most will start biting. This is what the Monkey Sanctuary is for, to cater for these monkeys.
Monkeys are social animals and spend much time grooming and playing with each others. Therefore, it will take some time for a new monkey to be accepted into a group. They live better in the Monkey Sanctuary as they receive proper treatment and care. Even so, sadly to say, they are still living in cages because this is not their native land and they will not survive in the wild here. As volunteers, we cleaned up the sanctuary like clearing the car park. It sounds like an easy job but digging up mud can be tiring, yet satisfying! We also prepared some games for the monkeys as treats!
By the end of the day, as the sun started to set and the temperature dropped slowly, it was time to leave. It was a worthwhile experience, although there was not much interactions with the monkeys, which was fine with me. It is still legal to have monkeys as pets in the UK but there is an on-going petition to ban the trade. I hope in the future, monkeys will not be kept as pets because as much as we all love having pets at home, monkeys do not develop well in closed territory. They need proper food and forest to fully develop into adults. I believe this sanctuary serve its purpose well by helping these monkeys and educating the public by creating awareness about pet trade! The sanctuary relies on volunteers to help maintain the sanctuary, prepare food, educate tourists and etc. Anyone interested to know more about the Monkey Sanctuary or would like to help out or donate, please click on the logo below.