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Posters to Help Protect Primates.

In the last few weeks of Monkeying Around we looked at the primate pet trade. Now this is arguably the hardest topic I wanted to teach in the 8 weeks of the club and would have to go about it carefully so as to inspire the children rather than upset them.

I looked online and found some great teaching resources from Wild Futures in Cornwall. This gave me some really good info and statistics which I was then able to turn into a PowerPoint full of interesting info suitable for my Year 6s. They learnt all about the current laws for keeping a primate and what this tends to actually mean in reality: What they are fed, the cages they are kept in, the injuries that can cause and what can happen to them when they don’t ‘behave’ and the illegal pet trade taking monkeys from the wild. The children then watched the video about Joey, a rescued capuchin monkey at Wild Futures and were very much moved by his story.

(Wild futures: http://www.wildfutures.org/)

We had a big discussion about whether primates should be kept as pets. The children came to a conclusion that most people cannot keep primates as pets as they do not understand their needs. The children think that UK laws need to be tightened to stop just anyone owning a primate as a pet and to stop primates being trafficked from the wild. They also decided that they would like to help educate as to what it’s really like to have a monkey as a pet…

So they made some posters to do just that!

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The posters have information about the reality of keeping a monkey, discuss how they feel about it and talk about Joey the Capuchin as an example.

I was sad that this was the last thing I would be teaching the children but was also really proud about how enthusiastic the children had become on the subject of primate conservation!

One of girls had done a whole piece of descriptive writing about a macaque during the classes big write. Two more girls surprised me with books they had made in their own time, full of facts about different animals, including notes telling me how much they’ve enjoyed the club!

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Tad emotional but job well done I feel!

On another note. This will probably be my last post for a long time as I am back to university for my last 6 months of study and to ensure all concentration is on my essays and passing, I will be slowing the voluntary/ part time work right down. However my other half and I have an exciting move planned in June…to Australia! I am very much hoping to carry on this environmental education journey out there. So if anyone has any contacts out there in this field of work, please do send me a message!

Thanks 🙂

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Wild Futures

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After my latest post describing Monkey World and it’s educational work I was contacted by Paul Reynolds, the Education Officer and Keeper at Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall. He wrote to me to ask if I would like to visit the Monkey Sanctuary and meet him to learn about the Monkey Sanctuary and the education programme that he runs. Of course I jumped at this chance!

I learnt so much about the Wild Futures charity and it is amazing what such a seemingly small charity can do. The truth is Wild Futures is not a small charity at all, they have huge influence in the primate conservation world. Firstly, what many people may not realise is that Wild Futures was created before Monkey World and both helped and advised Monkey World in the creation of their enclosures. They have also been a leading the way in Woolly Monkey husbandry, and were the first ever captive establishment to successfully breed them. (Due to being a sanctuary, Wild Future no longer breed their Woolly Monkeys)

At the moment Wild Futures are concentrating their influences onto parliament and the current exotic pet laws. Their campaign ‘Justice for Joey’ calls for the Government to make it illegal for primates to be sold and kept as pets in the UK. The campaign is based on the story of Joey the Capuchin monkey; who was kept by his owner in a tiny inside cage, causing him to become disabled. This is such a worthwhile campaign, as unfortunately Joey’s story happens far too often! Wild Futures influence and the campaigns importance is demonstrated perfectly in the fact that Stephen Fry has jumped on board and has appeared in the campaigns promotional video.
Here is a link for the Justice for Joey campaign:
http://www.wildfutures.org/justiceforjoey/

Education at Wild Futures comes in many different forms. The facilities at the Monkey Sanctuary are clearly old and could do with a re vamp but these things need money and being a charity the money first and foremost goes on the animals. Importantly thought, the content in the educational areas is fantastic! There is a room for younger children full of really exciting activities; from colouring to writing primate poems! It is a fantastic space for children to learn to love primates!

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There is also a very informative ‘lecture’ type room which includes videos, props and signs showing exactly why it is so cruel to keep a primate as a pet, and how Wild Futures rehabilitates these monkeys successfully. Even though shock tactic is used in this room it is really effective and detailed. I learnt so much, for instance I did not know that some vets recommend putting monkeys on leads! This room also shows the vast amount of conservation that Wild Futures are involved in and contribute to.

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On top of this there is a bat watching station, a room all about discovering local wild life and a fantastic display discussing the dangers of animal encounters when abroad.

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What I think is most impressive about the education is the person who is running it! It is clear that Paul really cares about encouraging children to see the dangers of the pet trade and actually, to just share his love of primates. He is a great force in this sanctuary, filling the site with brilliant ideas and info and connecting the sanctuary to lots of different primate charities. Being the only education officer at Wild Futures Paul is able to become involved in all sorts of events and school visits; leaving himself and Wild Futures with lots of fingers in lots of pies!

Finally the cute bit! The animals! The Monkey Sanctuary has rescued Woolly Monkeys, Capuchins and Barbary Macaques. I was lucky enough to see the big but beautiful woollys eat their morning monkey cake!

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Saw the famous and wonderful Joey. Fell in love with this big boy.

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And saw yet another species of marvelous macaques! Macaques are still, with out any question of a doubt my favourite primate species. Like the Sulawesis and the Stump tails the faces of the Barbarys were full of emotion and intelligence! One thing I was not expecting though was the size of these macaques! I don’t know whether all their fluff makes their size misleading but they were big old boys.

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Although this maybe wouldn’t be the ideal family day out for some people; as some may want to see more than 3 species of monkey and maybe not want to climb that many hills. I hope people bare in mind the fantastic work that is going on here and take the opportunity to educate themselves and children about primates and their welfare, by having a read of the signs, or a listen to the many volunteers that are more than happy to chat.

To Paul and Wild Futures, thank you for a fascinating day! My Justice for Joey letter will be off to my local MP very soon!