Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary between Caehopkin and Abercraf in Powys, Wales. It became the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary in December 2008, being previously known as Cefn-yr-Erw Primate Sanctuary. The sanctuary is owned and operated by husband and wife Graham and Jan Garen.
Cefn-yr-Erw had been a traditional hill farm, when Jan inherited it from her father. Jan first acquired a Vietnamese Potbelly Pig and later some marmosets, goats, capybaras and several traditional farm animals. Jan married Graham Garen in 1994 and the sanctuary continued to develop. When Penscynor Wildlife Park closed in 1998, the sanctuary took seven unwanted chimpanzees from the park and were able to house them from 21 February 1999 within the sanctuary. They would have been shot without the intervention of the sanctuary. The sanctuary now rescues and provides a final home for many types of unwanted animals, in particular chimpanzees, baboons, spider monkeys, capuchins and marmosets.
As the animals that they rescue are not able to survive in the wild, they try to make the rest of the animals' lives as enjoyable as possible. The sanctuary has a policy of not breeding any animals. The sanctuary receives no funding from the UK government, Welsh governments or local councils and therefore relies donations from the public and also from the entrance fee to its 30,000 visitors a year.
Although they specialise in the care and protection of primates they cannot stand by and see other animals in need of help. You will therefore find wolf dogs, horses, donkeys, cattle, pigs and others at their sanctuary. All are equally important members of their extended family. Visitors are welcome to see the animals and the work they do. They undertake a number of rescues from zoos and laboratories where animals have suffered mistreatment and deprivation or are no longer wanted. As they are not equipped for survival in the wild they can only endeavour to make the rest of their lives as enjoyable and stress free as possible.
Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives and we share 98.4% of the same genes. It is now thought that the human and chimpanzee lineages split and we became separate species no more than 5.4 million years ago. Since that time chimpanzees have acquired more genetic changes and have evolved more than humans. They have not developed the capability for speech as we understand it but this does not prevent them from communicating. In a number of respects they are superior to us, particularly in terms of strength, awareness and locomotion. In the absence of technology they are better adapted to their environment.
Incredibly chimps are more closely related to us than they are to any of the other apes and monkeys. Although chimps do not have complex speech this does not mean that they have nothing to say. They convey their thoughts and feelings to others by way of facial expressions, gestures and noises of which at least 24 specific ones are known. They do share our ability to laugh and show their appreciation of a joke.
When we speak of having ideas, feelings, perceptions, prejudices, ambitions, frustration, anger, sympathy, tolerance, character, and talent or of being manipulative, influential, or even power hungry, we could be talking about a chimpanzee. They not only fashion and use tools of various kinds but they innovate and solve problems that they have never seen before.
Chimps do not like to enter water and find it difficult to swim because of their heavy bone and muscle structure. A full grown chimpanzee is on average six times stronger than a man and can pull a deeply embedded six inch nail from a piece of wood using it's fingers alone. Unlike Orang Utangs they are not strictly vegetarian and in the wild they occasionally organise hunting parties to catch other small animals and monkeys to supplement their diet.
Chimps are known to seek out and eat specific plants for their medicinal effects, and they pass on their " herbalist remedies " to the next generation. Chimps are quick to learn about their environment, the daily routines, how things work, who does what, and how everyone and everything fits in to their understanding of their world. In other words they really know what is going on around them to a remarkable degree.
Unlike other animals which may mimic sounds, or actions, chimpanzees can take the next step and use this ability to satirise, convey sarcasm, pass comment, annoy and tease. They clearly enjoy the reactions which they can provoke in others. Just as in humans this "sense of humour", or as some would say "naughtiness", is more evident in some individuals than in others. Young chimps are not weaned until they are approaching three years of age. In the wild they receive constant parental care for at least five years, during which time they are taught the essential lessons of survival. Many chimps born in captivity are rejected by their mother at an early age and miss out in these formative years to the extent that they could not fend for themselves if released.
Chimps , like humans, approach maturity and are able to reproduce from the age of eleven or twelve onwards and pregnancies last just under nine months. Chimpanzees are an endangered species who's numbers have declined from millions to the present 200,000 in fifty years. The most worrying thing is that the rate of decline in the wild is accelerating and many of the 200,000 chimpanzee population are now living in scattered territories which are too small to be viable in the longer term.
Gibbons are small tree living apes native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. They are an endangered species, threatened by a habitat loss of thousands of acres per day and a flourishing illegal wildlife trade. Unlike most other primates gibbons are monogamous (mating for life) and live in single family groups. A Gibbon family unit will occupy a territory and defend its boundaries by a vigorous vocal and visual display. Mated Gibbons sing to each other in spectacular, almost bird-like duets, and occasionally the young will join in.
Gibbons are some of the world's greatest trapeze artists. They have the ability to swing and leap distances of 50 feet from tree to tree at speeds of up to 35 mph and the fact that they may be 200 feet above the ground does not seem to concern them. The number of surviving gibbon species is generally put at between thirteen and fifteen, depending on how the sub-species are classified. Their colourations range from cream to brown, and grey to black. In some species the males and females have a sex-specific colouration, whilst the colours of infants in some species are different from the adults. They can be divided into four groups in terms of their physical characteristics.These are Crested Gibbons, Siamangs, Hoolock Gibbons and Agile Gibbons.
Gibbons are “Old World Apes”. They have no tail and are found across Asia. Their New World, South American counterparts, such as Spider Monkeys have long prehensile tails which they can use to grip branches and for balance. The largest gibbons are the Siamangs which are also the World’s loudest land mammals. Our gibbons are all White Handed Lar Gibbons and they are also quite vocal. Their singing carries long distances and this is how they are able to communicate in dense tropical forests in the wild.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have three separate troops of baboons rescued from as far away as Portugal, Ireland, and Beirut. The airline “Emirates” have been of great assistance in helping them to bring many of their baboons to the sanctuary. In the wild Baboons live in large groups or troops, sometimes, and particularly in the case of Hamadryus Baboons, containing hundreds of animals. Within the troop individual males collect and maintain a harem of three or four breeding females and create extended families which include their own offspring, plus any immature females that they can acquire from other families.
Every group member occupies a position in the hierarchy and behaves accordingly. They are very social animals and share duties, which include looking after other members’ children. Baboons tend to live on the plains and savannas and so are essentially ground dwellers, but they will climb to reach fruits or to find a vantage point when necessary. They are omnivorous and will eat most fruits, fish, shellfish, small monkeys, hares, birds, small antelopes, sheep and goats.
They are great scavengers and this often brings them into conflict with humans who’s resources attract them. When threatened or alarmed they yawn to show their large canine teeth, flash their eyelids and make gestures that clearly indicate their displeasure.
There are five recognised species of Baboon, plus at least two sub-species. They range in size from the small Guinea Baboon at 50cm (20”) tall and weighing around 4Kg (30lbs), to the Chacma Baboon at 120cm (47 inches) tall weighing 40Kg (90 lbs). Other species are the Hamadryus, Olive and Yellow baboons, plus the Kinda and Grey Footed sub-species. The Hamadryus males are particularly striking with their large bushy white manes and indeed there is noticeable difference in stature between the males and females in each species. Drills and Mandrills are closely related to baboons and are the largest of all monkeys. They were once classified as Baboons, but are now recognised as a different genus.
Mandrills are the largest of all the monkey species and are closely related to baboons. Whereas baboons live in open spaces however, mandrills live in tropical rain forests. They are the World’s most colourful animal with large areas of brightly coloured flesh contrasting with dark brown fur. Males are much larger than females and can reach 90cm (36 inches) in height and weigh up to 35Kg (77 lbs). Females average around 66cm (26inches) in height and rarely exceed 14Kg (30lbs) in weight.
They live in family troops of 12 or more females and young, headed by a dominant male. Their main predators are leopards, pythons and humans and for this reason they are becoming endangered. The troops often come together in large groups of several hundred individuals and are often seen as a nuisance by local human populations who prize them as a bushmeat delicacy. Mandrills are mainly ground-living (terrestrial) animals but they will climb trees to reach fruits and nuts and to sleep. Their diet is varied and includes nuts, fruits, roots, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. They have cheek pouches in which they can store food for a future snack.
Mandrills have a dog shaped head with large canine teeth which they often bare. In mandrill society however this is usually seen as a friendly gesture and not a sign of aggression. Their most striking features are their ridged face with its blue, red and white markings and their bright red rumps. When they get excited their colours intensify.
Vervets are old World monkeys native to Africa. They are now only found in Southern and East Africa including Somalia, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan and South Africa, but they originally populated most habitable parts of Africa. Six distinct sub species of vervet are now recognised but the physical differences are not dramatic. They are all known as Vervets, Grivets or Savanna Monkeys. As their name suggest they are commonly found on savannah, but they also populate riverside and ocean-side forests as well as mountains up to 4,000 metres.
They are social animals, living in groups of up to forty monkeys, comprising a few mature males with lots of females and immature offspring. They are diurnal, which means they are up and about by day and sleeping at night. Vervets are semi-terrestrial and semi-arboreal, being equally agile whether foraging on the ground or in the trees. They invariably sleep amongst the smaller branches of trees to minimise their exposure to predators.
Although the ever increasing pressure from humans has reduced the numbers of their main natural predators, leopards, pythons and eagles considerably, man himself has now become their major predator. Vervets will eat most cultivated crops, especially maize, and this brings them into direct competition with the local population. Vervets are shot, poisoned, trapped, hunted for bushmeat and used for traditional medicines and biomedical research. In addition they are highly susceptible to traffic impacts and electrocution by power lines.
There has been no reliable assessment of their preservation status, although they are known to have disappeared from areas of South Africa in recent years and may be endangered in many others. Vervets have been introduced to some Caribbean islands including Barbados and St Kitts & Nevis where they appear to be flourishing, have few natural predators, and are better tolerated by the human population.
Capuchins are often referred to as "Barrel Organ Monkeys" and are very intelligent social animals indigenous to South America. As their nickname suggests they have been "domesticated" and used for generations by street merchants, beggars and buskers to attract public attention. They quickly learn to perform quite complex tasks and to interact with humans. Capuchins are the most intelligent of the New World Monkeys. They can be taught the concept of money and trade and have appeared in functional roles in numerous films. They can also be taught to assist disabled people by washing their faces, microwaving food, cleaning and answering the door and doing other simple jobs around the home.
Their nick name of Barrel Organ Monkeys comes from their long association with fair grounds, street entertainers and beggars. In the wild their main threats are from Humans, Eagles, Jaguars, Cougars, Snakes, Crocodiles, Coyotes, Jaguarundis, Tayras and habitat loss. Speciation is still controversial but four species are widely recognised I.e. White Fronted, White Faced, Brown Tufted, and Wedge Capped. Named variants which fall into one of these four species categories are listed below. Their natural habitat is rain forest, mangroves, and deciduous dry forest, where they will forage from ground level right up into the canopy.
They are pretty well omnivorous. Their natural diet includes at least 95 types of fruit, leaves, berries, nuts, seeds, shoots, buds and gums, bark, insects, spiders, small vertebrates, birds, infant squirrels, baby coatimundis, lizards, eggs, crabs, oysters, and at least 24 species of flowers. Capuchins are fascinating animals to watch as they are so active, inquisitive, bold, cheeky and obviously intelligent. Their expressions and human-like eyes make them particularly appealing to us. Capuchins are one of the most popular monkeys kept as pets, but without proper care and diet they suffer various health problems and unfortunately they are one of the most abused.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have three species of Macaque: Crab Eating Macaque, Japanese Macaque and Rhesus Macaque. Macaques are old World monkeys and after man are the most widely distributed primate, ranging from Afghanistan to Japan. The famous Barbary Apes on the Rock of Gibralter are Macaques. These and some other Macaques have no tail and are erroneously referred to as apes, whereas all are true monkeys and are not closely related to true apes.
Macaques have an intricate social structure which recognises different levels of status.They submit to other Macaques of a higher social standing. A higher ranking monkey is even allowed to remove food from the mouth of a lower ranking member of the troop without an argument ensuing. They live in troops which may contain several hundred animals, although several dozen is more common. Troops are likely to consists of three or four females to every male. In this respect they are similar to Baboons, to whom they are closely related.
Rhesus macaques are noted for their tendency to move from rural to urban areas, coming to rely on handouts or refuse from humans. They have become a pest in some areas, particularly in India, and are often perceived as a possible risk to public health and safety. They are excellent swimmers and like to enter water. Most Macaques are diurnal, sleeping by night and foraging by day. They are both arboreal and terrestrial, and mostly herbivorous, feeding on leaves, pine needles, roots, and the occasional insect or small animal. They have specialized pouch-like cheeks, allowing them to temporarily hoard their food. Their main predators are birds of prey, dogs, weasels, leopards, tigers, sharks, crocodiles, and snakes.
The unusual monkeys with pointed heads are Black Crested Mangabeys and are native to Zaire, Angola and the African Congo. They live in groups of up to twenty animals and walk around on all fours, eating a variety of fruits and seeds. As males mature they leave the group, which mostly comprises females and their young, plus one mature male who is father to the children. They tend to return to the same places to feed and to nest and they are known to have communication skills.
Mangabeys make loud penetrating calls to ensure that they maintain a distance between different groups in dense jungle areas. These loud calls are supplemented by whooping and gobbling noises which convey specific information about their location and the identity of the caller. They do not appear to be directed at anyone in particular, but seem to mean “come along. We are off”. When approached by a youngster an adult male will make greeting grunts to re-assure the infant that it is friendly.
Mangabeys have quite dramatic reactions to any potential threat, such as the approach of a human. They begin to chuckle, which is actually an alarm call to other group members. They stare, open their mouth and roll back their eyelids to expose a different colour beneath, which makes them look quite menacing. Then they bob their head and make it quite clear that they are agitated. Mature females tend to purse their lips and pout at any adult males who attract their interest. This signifies their receptivity to courtship. There are a number of distinct types of Mangabey including Sooty, Black Crested, Agile, Golden Bellied, White Collared, Tana River and Sanje Mangabeys. All are part of the family of monkeys that includes Macaques, Baboons and Mandrills.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have two species of Spider Monkey: Black Spider Monkey and Brown Spider Monkey. Spider monkeys come from South America. They have exceptionally long tails and legs in relation to body length. Their tail is prehensile and extremely flexible and is used as a fifth limb. There is uncertainty as to how many different species of spider monkey can be identified, with suggestions ranging from one to five. Some Spider Monkeys are all black whilst others are shades of brown and may have black hands and faces. Columbian Black and Black Hand Spider Monkeys are two recognised types, but whether they are different species is open to debate.
Spider monkeys, like Gibbons, are Brachiators. This means that they get around by swinging beneath the branches of the trees and as such they favour the upper canopy of the forest. Also like Gibbons they can walk upright on two legs along branches, or on the ground. Unlike Gibbons however they have a prehensile tail, which is used not just for balance, but as a fifth limb to aid their rapid locomotion and as an extra anchor for holding on to branches. They appear to prefer wet rain forest, rather than dry forest and they seek out ripe fruits, which make up most of their diet, although they will also eat leaves, birds’ eggs and spiders.
Although they may live in groups of average size eighteen to twenty individuals, the whole group does not forage at one time. Only say five or six individuals at a time will split off from the main group to go foraging and these sub groups may be all females, all males, or mixed. Only the males however issue the long warning calls used to alert any separated group members.
During the day Spider Monkeys congregate in large groups of thirty or more animals, but split up into smaller groups of six or less for sleeping and hunting. Females only give birth to a single baby every two to five years and as indigenous people hunt them for food their numbers are declining in the wild. Deforestation is also reducing the size and range of their habitat in many areas.
Marmosets are small New World monkeys comprising twenty two species, all of which are indigenous to the Amazonian regions of South America. They are often kept as house pets. Marmosets are closely related to Tamarins and both have fine, silky, multi-coloured coats. Their markings, colours and patterns, are species specific, with each species having unique tufts, manes, and moustaches. This makes Marmosets and Tamarins the most diverse and colourful of the New World primates.
Marmosets are arboreal (tree living) animals.Their hind legs are specially developed for holding onto a limb while reaching for a piece of fruit or an insect and their sharp claws provide a sure, steady anchor. They are forest dwellers but are not found in mountainous regions. Marmosets and Tamarins are diurnal (active by day, sleeping at night) and gain their nourishment primarily through fruits, augmented by nectars, flowers, saps, gums, and small animals such as frogs, lizards, insects, and spiders. They have also been known to eat leaf buds, but not mature leaves.
Although the tails of these primates are very long and substantial in relation to body size they are not prehensile, and are used only for balancing while climbing, leaping, and running. They are very agile creatures, crossing from tree to tree by running along branches at incredibly high speeds. Today only Bolivia, Panama, and French Guinea still permit their export, but many are still found in laboratories.
Tamarins are squirrel sized New World Monkeys indigenous to Central and South America including the Amazon Basin and Northern Bolivia. They are not however found in mountainous areas at higher altitudes. They are tree living monkeys and are diurnal, foraging by day and sleeping at night.
Tamarins vary in colour from all black to brown, red, white and mixtures of these colours and a striking feature of many species is a prominent moustache or a crown of long hair. They are all relatively small monkeys, varying in body size from 18 to 30 cms (7 to 12 inches) and with long tails of 25 to 44 cms (10 to 18 inches). They live in groups which may contain several families and total up to 40 members, smaller groups of less than 15 animals are however more common.
Tamarins are omnivorous, eating amongst other things fruits, green plants, spiders, insects, small vertebrates and birds eggs. They are monogamous, mating for life and usually giving birth to twins, which the father cares for most of the time, with the mother carrying out nursing and transportation duties. Other group members help care for infants and help with foraging and predator watching vigils. Major predators include cats, snakes and birds of prey (raptors). Most species are threatened by habitat loss due to the activities of man. Some are now critically threatened.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have three species of Lemur: Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Black Lemur and Mayotte Lemur. Lemurs are not monkeys they are Prosimians, a relatively primitive group of primates which includes the African Loris and the South East Asian Tarsier. Lemurs are found only in Madagascar and the Comoros Islands off the coast of Africa. Most are arboreal animals with long limbs, long noses and flexible toes and fingers. The animals at Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary are Rough Lemurs, one of around 50 distinctive types of which 17 are listed as endangered, ten of them critically. Their natural habitat is under threat from human exploitation of the environment.
Although most species of Lemur live in the trees of tropical rainforest the Ring-tailed Lemur lives mainly on the ground, and their range extends into dry desert areas. Some lemurs are nocturnal and these tend to live alone, whilst others live in groups and are active by day. Most species are omnivorous but eat more fruit by choice. One common feature is their method of communicating by scent marking and using their long tails as a signalling flag. Group living Lemurs are very vocal and produce loud "cackling sounds" reminiscent of ducks.
Lemurs are rather slow moving and docile animals with some of the lowest metabolic rates in the animal kingdom, although they can give a nasty bite if startled or threatened. Some of our rough lemurs clearly enjoy human company. The name Lemur comes from the Lemures or spirits and ghosts of Roman mythology, probably as a result of their nocturnal habits, large reflective eyes and weird vocalisations. Their ancestors are believed to have travelled to Madagascar and the Comoros Islands from Africa, on rafts of vegetation, around 62 to 65 million years ago . Since that time they have been isolated and have evolved uniquely so that they are not found elsewhere in the World. Unlike monkeys and many other animals they do not have claws, they have finger nails.
Until humans colonised the islands around 2000 years ago there were giant lemurs weighing 200 kilos (440 lbs), the size of male gorillas. Today the largest lemur species reach around 9 Kilos (20lbs) and the smallest ones weigh only 30 grams (1.1 oz). Until recent times therefore lemurs had some of the largest and smallest examples of any animal species. Today all lemur species are threatened by habitat loss and some are highly endangered.
Porcupines are rodents. They are the longest living of all the rodents and after the Capybara and the Beaver they are also the third largest. Their most obvious feature is their spines, or quills, which are modified hairs, coated in hard keratin platelets. Although they may look a little like large hedgehogs they are in fact not. Porcupines range in colour from grey and brown to white. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats including, forests, desserts, rocky outcrops, hills and mountains up to 3,700 metres (12,000 ft).
The Old World Porcupines are found mainly in South Asia and Africa and are almost fully terrestrial (they live on the ground) and their quills are grouped in clusters. The New World Porcupines of North and South America on the other hand are more arboreal (tree living) and are excellent climbers. They have individual quills evenly distributed across their back and upper flanks. Porcupines are slow moving herbivores. They eat mainly green plants, leaves and bark and are mainly nocturnal, although when food is scarce they will forage during the day.
Porcupine's main predators are wolves, wolverines, martens, eagles, owls and pythons and in Kenya, where they are regarded as a pest, they are eaten by man. Road kills are a significant regulatory factor, particularly in North America and Canada, where porcupines are attracted to the salt used on the roads in the winter. Porcupines can lower their quills and raise them when threatened. They cannot however fire them at their victims as has sometimes been suggested. The spines easily penetrate the flesh of any attacker, whereupon they detach from the porcupine to leave the recipient with the painful task of trying to remove them.
There are at least 23 distinct species of porcupine, comprising 11 Old World Porcupines and 12 New World Porcupines. The New World Porcupines tend to be smaller, with the exception of the North American Porcupine, which at up to 91cm (35 inch) long, with a 25cm (10 inch) tail, and weighing around 16Kg (35lbs) is the largest species. The smallest of all is the Rothschilds Porcupine of South America which weighs less than 1Kgm (2lbs).
Today's wolf dogs are not the result of a wild wolf bred with a domestic dog. They are the result of dozens or more generations of wolf dogs bred with wolf dogs. Decades ago wolf breeders in the fur trade sold pure wolves to zoos, exhibitionists, and the public. While these commercial breeders no longer exist, many of these private owners still breed wolf dogs. Most domestic bred wolf dogs can trace their lineage back to the fur farms of the 1950's.
A wolf dog is the offspring of a wolf and a dog, a wolf and a wolf dog, or two wolf dogs. Many hybrids are part German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, or Siberian Husky, but Chow Chows, Akitas, and other breeds are often used. The wolf part of the heritage comes from a population of wolves that has been bred in captivity for many years, as it is illegal to capture a wolf from the wild. The wolf dog has become one of the most controversial canines in North America in recent years. Their increasing popularity as pets has led to an increase of animals that the general public is ill-equipped to handle. Shelters are faced with animals that they cannot put up for adoption; veterinarians are faced with concerns over inoculations (there is no rabies vaccine available for wolves or hybrids).
Distinguishing a wolf from a wolf dog can be difficult unless the animal has characteristics of a domestic breed such as a curly tail or floppy ears. Wolf dog hybrids are more difficult and may be misclassified even with sophisticated measurements. Wolf dogs are not native wild animals. When wild wolves and domestic dogs are bred the result is often an unpredictable and mentally conflicted wolf dog. Dogs are gregarious, aggressive, and obedient to please man. Wolves are shy, highly intelligent, have an inbred fear of man and are psychologically and sociologically very different from dogs.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have many cows and a bull. All have been rescued within the UK. At first glance, cows might seem to be simple animals, but they’re not! Cows are fascinating animals. For instance did you know that cows can smell something up to 6 miles away, or that cows can produce 125 lbs. of saliva in one day. Cows are social animals, and they naturally form large herds. And, like people, they will make friends and bond to some herd members, while avoiding others.
Cattle are extremely curious creatures and investigate anything and everything. Cattle have one stomach but it is divided into four compartments, the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum, the rumen being the largest compartment, this arrangement helps cattle to more efficiently digest grains and grasses. Cattle are ruminants, this means that they have a digestive system that allows them to digest foods, which would otherwise be indigestible, by the process of repeated regurgitating and rechewing of food referred to as "cud". The cud is then reswallowed and further digested by specialised micro-organisms in the rumen. The rumen holds up to an incredible 50 gallons of partially digested food.
Cattle chew their cud for up to 8 hours each day and they spend approximately six hours eating. Cows eat about 40 pounds of food each day and drink 30 gallons of water, approximately a bathtub full. Cattle drink water by the use of a sucking action, they do not lap up water like a cat or dog. Cattle have an almost total 360-degree panoramic vision.
It is estimated that there are approximately 920 different breeds of cattle in the world which collectively number an estimated 1.3 billion animals world wide. Amongst the most popular dairy and beef breeds are: Dairy, Holstein-Friesian, Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss, and Ayrshire. Beef, Hereford, Brahman (or Zebu), Aberdeen-Angus, Shorthorn, Santa Gertrudis, Galloway, Africander, Charolais, and Simmental.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have many horses such as Miniature, Shetland Ponies, Welsh Cob and Shire Horses. All have been rescued within the UK. The Przewalski’s horse is the only truly wild horse species still in existence. The only wild population is in Mongolia. There are however numerous populations across the world of feral horses e.g. mustangs in North America. Horses use their ears, eyes and nostrils to express their mood. They also communicate their feelings through facial expressions.
It is extremely unlikely to see all horses in a herd lying down simultaneously. This is because at least one horse will stand as a look-out in order to be able to alert the others of any potential dangers. Horses have near 360 degree vision. They do however have blind spots directly in front and behind them. It is extremely dangerous to stand behind a horse as they are liable to kick out if they get scared by anything as kicking out is their way of defending themselves.
Horses use a range of different vocalisations to communicate. Whinnying and neighing sounds are elicited when horses meet or leave each other. Stallions (adult male horses) perform loud roars as mating calls, and all horses will use snorts to alert others of potential danger. Mares (adult female horses) use deep smooth sounds, whickering, when they are nursing a foal (infant horse). Horses and other equines have better senses of smell and hearing than humans. Their ears can turn in different directions to aid their hearing.
Horses are undeniably clever animals. Beyond being proficient at relatively simple learning tasks, they are also recognised as having the capacity to solve advanced cognitive challenges involving categorisation learning and a degree of concept formation. The horse is one of the 12 Chinese signs of the zodiac. Anyone born in the year of the horse is seen to embody the characteristics of the animal, namely intelligence, independence and a free-spirit.
Equine assisted therapy is a growing field where horses help people with a wide range of mental health issues. A relationship between the patient and the horse develops and allows the person to engage with nature through a beautiful and peaceful animal. This aids in building trust, respect, compassion, communication and self-confidence. The skills learned through building a meaningful relationship with the horse are transferable to other aspects of the individual’s life.
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have a variety of ducks. Not all of them have been rescued, as they see many ducks visiting them or just stopping off on their route, as they seem to like and settle on our ponds. Ducks feet has no nerves or blood vessels, meaning that their feet do not feel the cold! This enables ducks to swim in icy water, and walk in ice and snow. Male ducks are called Drakes, females are called Hens, and baby ducks are known as Ducklings.
There are around 40 breeds of domestic ducks, with the most popular being the White Pekin. A Red-Breasted Merganser was once recorded flying at just over 100 miles per hour, whilst being pursued by a plane. Ducks normally migrate between 200 and 4,000 feet in the air, but are capable of reaching far greater heights. A jet plane over Nevada once struck a Mallard at an altitude of 21,000 feet! This is currently the highest recorded flight of any duck.
Depending on the species, a duck can live between 2 and 12 years. Ducks have webbed feet, acting like paddles under the water. This is what makes them such good swimmers. Ducks have three eyelids. The feathers on a ducks back are waterproof. Some ducks can fly up to 332 miles in a single day!
At Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary they have Kune Kune Pigs. All have been rescued within the UK. Pigs are intelligent animals. Like humans, pigs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals. A pig's snout is an important tool for finding food in the ground and sensing the world around them. Pigs have an excellent sense of smell. There are around 2 billion pigs in the world.
Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and can recognize their own names by the time they’re 2 weeks old. Sows have even been known to sing to their young whilst nursing. Think that pigs are slow and lumbering? As it turns out, they’re not at all! Adult pigs can run at speeds of up to 11mph, or in other words, they can run a seven-minute mile. Could you do any better?
A pig's squeal can be as loud as 115 decibels – that’s 3 decibels higher than the sound of a supersonic airliner. And when they’re not squealing, they’re talking. Pigs communicate constantly with each other, and more than 20 different vocalisations have been identified; from wooing a mate to saying ‘I’m hungry!” And talking isn’t the only way in which pigs are similar to humans – their genetic makeup is also very close to our own. Because of this, stem cells from pigs are being used by scientists to research cures for human diseases. To track the cells once they’ve been injected, Chinese geneticists have crossed a pig with a jellyfish, producing piglets whose tongues and trotters glow fluorescent green in UV light.
In addition the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary have donkeys, mules, rabbits, raccoons, cats and dogs.
One of the best ways to support the Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary is to adopt an animal. An Animal Adoption costs £35 regardless of which animal you choose. You can, however Adopt additional animals at an additional cost of £35 per animal. When you take out an adoption at Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary, you adopt a named animal. An animal adoption includes: Welcome letter, Adoption certificate, Membership card and Profile of the animal you have adopted. Click here to adopt an animal.
Toilet facilities are available. There is on-site parking. The site is wheelchair accessible. Assistance dogs are welcome but please speak to the staff for advice. Picnics are allowed and there are snacks available.
You can join their keeping team and experience life as a Keeper for a day. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find out what goes on behind the scenes at the Sanctuary? Well here's your chance! Learn about life at the sanctuary and the animals that you will meet from the people that really know – their keepers. Get stuck into food preparation, feeding and even mucking out! Best of all spend time with some of the world's most exotic animals.
Location : Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary, Caehopkin Rd, Abercrave SA9 1UD
Transport : Neath (National Rail) then bus 11 miles. Bus Routes : 62A then 10 minutes
Opening Times : Daily, 10:30 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £8.50; Children (3 - 14) £5.00; Seniors / Disabled / Carers £7.00
Tickets : Keeper for a Day £125.00
Group bookings available at a discount. Annual tickets available - Disabled £30
Tel : 01639 730276