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Rhesus macaque finds friendship

Rhesus macaque formerly used in biomedical research finds new best friend at Black Beauty Ranch

All Animals magazine, November/December 2016

by Cathy Vincenti

New pals Julie and Sunshine enjoy enrichment activities in their enclosure. Photo by Frank Loftus/The HSUS.

At 21, plenty of folks go buy beer. But Julie, a rhesus macaque who’ll reach that milestone in December, will celebrate the day by chowing down on special treats given to her at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch.

Julie has spent roughly half of her life in a laboratory being used for biomedical research. She was then retired to a zoo, where she remained for another decade until her longtime mate died earlier this year. After her loss, zoo officials felt that Julie would be happier living with another rhesus macaque and reached out to Black Beauty Ranch.

Coincidentally, Sunshine, a rhesus macaque also retired from biomedical research, lost her roommate and best friend Jonas this year. The zoo and ranch made arrangements for Julie and Sunshine to meet. “As with any primate introduction, we do it in different stages because they can be quite aggressive with each other,” says Noelle Almrud, director of Black Beauty Ranch.

The meet and greet went well, and at the end of the second day, the new friends sat together for their evening meal. “They’ve been grooming each other consistently, which is probably the most positive behavior you can have,” says Almrud. “It shows that they’re bonded. We’re thrilled that they’re happy with each other.” Julie and Sunshine spend their days soaking up rays, sharing treats and investigating their enrichment tools and toys.

These girls are lucky; many primates are still in need of sanctuary. Almrud says there are more primates needing homes than there is available space. “A lot of times we have to turn them away.”

That’s why Black Beauty Ranch is fundraising to build additional primate habitat—giving more animals the chance to live out their lives in a safe, peaceful setting.

To support this effort, go here.

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