Ten year celebration for unique Monkey Rescue Centre

The ‘Fundació Mona (‘Monkey Foundation’), in Riudellots de la Selva, is unique in Spain in rescuing primates illegally introduced from Africa. It celebrated its 10 years.

CNA / Lourdes Casademont

March 2, 2011 10:27 PM

Girona (ACN).- Over ten years, the Monkey Centre Mona, in Riudellots de la Selva, not far from Girona, has provided shelter to 26 rescued animals. It is the only foundation of its kind in Spain supporting monkeys entering illegally from Africa and promoting scientific research in primates as well as rescue and rehabilitation.

For its tenth birthday, students from the school Sant Pere Chanel, in Malgrat de Mar, visited the monkey haven and prepared a cake of leaves, fruit and bamboo shoots for the chimps to enjoy. The project's director, Olga Feliu, said that 25,000 visitors have come to see the monkeys on the 7 acres of municipal-owned land, since the centre opened. 

Currently, there are 16 monkeys living at the centre, between 8 and 55 years old: 12 chimpanzees and the remainder, macaques. The monkeys will remain at the foundation for their entire 60 year life-span as they cannot be returned to the jungle. "It is a project for life," explains the director, recounting the funding problems they've experienced over the project's course. Each primate costs up to 7,000 euros to keep. In 2010 alone, the centre had to invest 250,000 euros in total maintenance.

The Spanish Ministry of Economics and Finance provides only 12,000 euros annually as primates are property of the Spanish State. Alongside this public aid, the bulk of funding comes from individuals' contributions.

The foundation was created as an 'ethical solution' for confiscated primates entering Spain illegally. In the late 1970's, they flooded into the country as a tourist attraction but ended up in kennels and cages when they grew older. Since 1986, Spain has joined an international treaty regulating the trade in exotic species and there are now a number of requirements that have to be met before legally owning a monkey. But primates still continue to enter the country illegally, laments the director. 

Before entering the facility, Mona Foundation's members analyse the monkey for potential issues in captivity. At the moment, no more macaques are being admitted as the current group is proving problematic. Each of the monkeys living there have their own personality. Their past -how they have been treated and under what conditions they've lived- affects them for life and explains why some arrive traumatized and hide in corners while other monkeys are happy staying at the monkey-home.

The Mona Foundation aims to consolidate their activities over the following years and continue opening their doors to the public and monkeys in need.