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Monkey World News

New start for cage misery chimp

BBC NEWS world edition

5th July 2005

A chimpanzee is starting a new life at a monkey sanctuary in Dorset after two years of negotiations to rescue her from a tiny cage in the Canary Islands.

British holidaymakers spotted Patricia locked away at a private address in Fuerteventura and raised the alarm with experts at Monkey World in Wareham.

After battling to save her, she finally arrived at the sanctuary on Tuesday.

Dr Alison Cronin, who owns and runs the centre with husband Jim, said Patricia had to learn how to be a chimp again.

The pair made several inquiries to try to rescue the seven-year-old but only had success when a vet offered to help as a go-between.

She has no idea of how to behave naturally as a chimpanzee
Dr Alison Cronin

She said she believed the chimp's mother was killed by hunters in Africa. Patricia was then shipped to the Canary Islands as a baby, where a family bought her illegally.

"They start out as a cute little bundle of fluff in a nappy but that cute bundle of fluff will grow up to be 50 or 60 kilos (110 or 132 lbs) and capable of tearing a man's arm off," Dr Cronin said.

"Once Patricia started reaching three-years-old and started breaking the house apart and started to bite them, they did what everybody else does, they built a small and inappropriate cage."

She said Patricia had lived in the "tiny, tiny" cage for the past five years.

Patricia lived in a tiny cage for five years

'Poor condition'

"Patricia has never lived with chimpanzees before and is being slowly introduced to a group of 17 chimps at the sanctuary, looked after by alpha male Hananya," Dr Cronin continued.

"She has so far refused to allow any of them to touch her but it is hoped she will fully join the group and learn to live as a chimp in time.

"She has no idea of how to behave naturally as a chimpanzee. Her physical condition is poor, she has very poor muscle tone and cannot climb very well.

"She has to learn how to be a chimp again and that's a lot for what amounts to a teenager to pick up very quickly."

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