Currently, there are approximately 106,000 monkeys living in U.S. research facilities (~10,000 are living in Madison, WI). Amy Kerwin founded Primates Incorporated in 2004 while she was working with 97 rhesus monkeys in a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After discovering their amazing intelligence and individual personalities, she concluded there had to be a way to both improve their welfare and increase the frequency of their placement into primate sanctuaries where they could experience a peaceful and enriching environment.
She began networking with other primate sanctuaries and discovered most of them were near capacity. As a result, they were often forced to turn away monkeys from research facilities. The reality is that these monkeys are then sold to more studies, kept on as breeders, or euthanized to free up their cages.
Additionally, thousands of monkeys are bought and sold in the exotic pet trade. Monkeys do not make good pets. They become aggressive toward humans as they age and, as a result, are frequently sent to a primate sanctuary as a solution. In fact, the sanctuaries that Kerwin initially communicated with were at capacity because they were inundated with pet monkeys. Since then, many sanctuaries have and continue to expand, but the number of monkeys in need of permanent homes far exceeds the space available.
Our goal at Primates Incorporated is to rehabilitate and socialize the monkeys in our care so that they have the opportunity to experience a life similar to that of their wild counterparts. Through behavioral observation and enrichment, we attempt to reduce the abnormal behaviors typical of captive monkeys (e.g., pacing, fur plucking, biting) and encourage the kind of behaviors they demonstrate in the wild, such as grooming, foraging, and resting. It is also our intent to house the monkeys in pairs or groups, which is closer to how they live in their natural environment.