Monkey Town is back in full swing

By Keagan Mitchell Time of article published Sep 14, 2020

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SUPPORT and generosity have helped a once-thriving tourist attraction stay afloat.

Like many other businesses, Monkey Town Primate Centre, in Somerset West, has felt the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The wildlife centre was closed for four months and lost close to R1 million.

Its animal food bill alone is R100 000 a month as it feeds close to 700 animals, multiple times a day.

None of the workers lost their jobs, but Monkey Town depends on ticket sales to generate income.

Manager Melissa Grobler said: “During lockdown, we had to learn how to ask for help from the public. This is not something we’ve ever had to do in our 20 years.

“We wouldn’t have been able to survive without a lot of things that magically fell into place for us during lockdown, but specifically the generosity of the public. We received amazing support from so many wonderful people.

“We used Facebook as our marketing tool to ask for donations and started a BackaBuddy (fund-raising platform) campaign to keep us afloat.”

With regards to the animals, Grobler said they missed the public.

“They’re so used to the public and are fascinated by them. Schools usually come through to sing and dance for our primates. They love their usual daily entertainment. We could see they were extremely happy to see any new face during the four months we were closed – we had contractors come in to do some work and they were greeted with a lot of chatter and excitement,” she said.

Monkey Town has more than 250 monkeys and apes of 26 different species. The wildlife centre has a variety of other animals including water terrapins, African pygmy hedgehogs, parrots and alpacas. Its reptile garden has more than 100 venomous and non-venomous snakes and other reptiles.

Monkey Town has braai/picnic facilities and a water park that includes a 70m supertube.

“Monkey Town’s main objective is education and rescue. Schools visit and most pupils have never seen a monkey, alpaca, python, etc.

“To teach them to respect animals and nature is so important.

“We also take in a lot of ex-pet animals, ranging from monkeys to tortoises and birds. Every bird at Monkey Town has been donated to us from the pet trade. We also work with the government to take in rescues,” Grobler said.

Last weekend, Monkey Town received a black-eared marmoset, which has never seen another monkey or had a proper diet. “He doesn’t know he can eat fruits and most vegetables (he only eats butternut and sweet potatoes raw), as he was offered a human diet most of the time.

“He ignores any healthy food. It is going to take a lot of patience and trust for him to adjust to being a proper monkey.

“Monkey Town’s saying is ‘where friends and family meet’. Our animals are an extension of our human families.

“We love and care for them like we would our own children or family members,” she added.

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