On the morning of last Thursday, 26 March, in cooperation with the local police and veterinarian authority and with the Portuguese CITES authority, ANIMAL, with the support of the IPPLInternational Primate Protection League, undertook a rescue operation of three vervet monkeys – a mother of 12 years old and her two 4 and 5 year-old daughters – illegally being kept in a miserable shack with a barren and filthy cage in the deep rural area of Moura, a town in Alentejo, South of Portugal, where bullfighting and hunting are very popular activities – which says a lot about how animals are viewed and treated there.

The ANIMAL’s rescue team – composed, among others, of a wildlife vet –, working in a positive articulation of efforts with the authorities – and surprisingly finding the cooperation of the man who held the primates captive, who was happily not hostile during the operation –, was, after a few hours, able to capture and safely place in the transport crates the three monkeys without having to use any tranquiliser. The team headed towards Monte Selvagem, the special animal park, unique in Portugal, which provides home only to animals for which there is no more room in zoos and sanctuaries and also to animals seized by the authorities or, starting from now, by ANIMAL.

After a drive which took a little more than 2 hours, the team finally arrived at the Monte Selvagem park with the family of primates, where they received a final health-check by the team’s vet. They were happily in good health and not too thin. After the health-check, the group of three vervet monkeys was finally released into their new home – a naturally enriched enclosure specially designed for this species, where, for the first time in their lives, the primates could climb trees, ropes, feel the land and vegetation, hide and socialise in a natural context. At their side, they found three other vervet monkeys which were already there and which were curious about these events and their new neighbours. The team at Monte Selvagem will now rehabilitate these primates and work on introducing this mother and their two daughters into the existing group of vervet monkeys already established at this enclosure.

Two weeks ago, ANIMAL found out that the environmental department of the local police had seized the primates in Moura – but only to keep them at the place where they were found and seized, as it is common for the authorities to do in Portugal. ANIMAL intensified talks with the Monte Selvagem park, with which an agreement for the placement of rescued wild animals was being worked on by ANIMAL, and the park accepted to provide sanctuary for these primates. Following this, ANIMAL requested to the Portuguese CITES authority the guardianship of the vervets in order to rescue the animals and place them at Monte Selvagem. The authority responded positively to ANIMAL, which has, always worked in liaison and with the support of the IPPL, immediately prepared the rescue operation.

Miguel Moutinho, President of ANIMAL, said “it is extremely positive and gratifying for us to have the opportunity of, in a fruitful collaboration with several parties, helping these primates by rescuing them and placing them in a suitable enclosure where they will now be safe, where they will be recuperated and where they will finally have the opportunity to actually live like primates in a natural environment integrated in a group composed of other members of their species. ANIMAL wishes to thank the IPPL for their support to this operation, and also to EDEV – Een Dier Een Vriend and to Stichting AAP, from Holland, for also helping to make this operation possible. We also thank Monte Selvagem for opening their doors to these primates and for accepting to deepen their relationship with animals so to create conditions to hopefully receive more animals, of different species, that ANIMAL urgently needs to seize and rescue and which can now have a place where they can be safely and suitably placed, kept and protected.”

You can view a photo-report of the story (rescue and placement) at:http://blogdaanimal.blogspot.com/2009/03/foto-reportagem-da-operacao-de-resgate.html(before the rescue operation),http://blogdaanimal.blogspot.com/2009/03/foto-reportagem-da-operacao-de-resgate_27.html (during the rescue operation), and http://blogdaanimal.blogspot.com/2009/03/foto-reportagem-da-operacao-de-resgate_8469.html(the end of the rescue and placement operation)

“In Portugal, it is extremely common for the authorities to do just about nothing when it comes to animal protection. This operation showed that this can be different and that the authorities can cooperate with ANIMAL and, through this cooperation, enhance their capacity to do their work while also making ANIMAL’s work in defence of animals more productive and effective. According to what the Portuguese CITES authority told us during this operation, there are currently about 100 primates already seized by this authority and in a desperate need of a home. ANIMAL wishes that this rescue operation may have been only the beginning of a broader work to create good and safe rescue and sanctuary solutions for these and so many other animals. Portugal is a country where the illegal trade in exotic animals is extremely strong, so we need to work a lot in preventing and fighting the trade while also in creating responses for the animals affected by this trade which are in need of protection and of a safe haven”, Rita Silva, ANIMAL’s Vice-President said.




ANIMAL now wants to ensure that Laurinda, the mother, and her two daughters, are properly cared for for the rest of their lives. Every Euro helps. Please make as much a generous donation as you can today to help ANIMAL help Laurinda and her daughters to continue being cared for and also to enable ANIMAL to continue and better its work to help individual animals in Portugal and to forward animal protection in this country:

·Use PayPal to make asafe and easy internet payment– please go to http://www.PayPal.com/ and make a donation to info@animal.org.pt

·Make a regular donation by cheque or money order and post it to us at: ANIMAL, Apartado 24140, 1251-997 Lisboa, Portugal