- The Aspinall Foundation announced last week that the monkeys had been moved from the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, UK, to the Java Primate Project in Indonesia, a journey of over 7,000 miles.
- The monkeys will be monitored carefully for several months and gradually released into larger areas until they "have the run of the forest."
The only captive group of endangered grizzled leaf monkeys outside of Indonesia has been returned to the wild.
The Aspinall Foundation announced last week that the monkeys had been moved from the Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent, UK, to the Java Primate Project in Indonesia, a journey of over 7000 miles.
“These are the only grizzled leaf monkeys in human care, outside Indonesia,” Damian Aspinall, chairman of The Aspinall Foundation, said in a statement emailed to Mongabay.
“We’ve had huge success with our breeding programme – vital for this species to survive. Now, we are delighted to be able to send them back to the wild, where they belong.”
The Aspinall Foundation’s Java Primate Project, launched in 2009, works with local governments and organizations to rescue primates from the illegal pet trade, rehabilitate them and release them into protected forest areas.
As the newly arrived group of grizzled leaf monkeys — five males and two females — acclimatize to their natural environment, they will be watched by their keeper from Howletts and primate experts in Indonesia.
Made Wedana, the director of the Aspinall Foundation’s Indonesian Project, said the monkeys will be monitored carefully for several months. “Once we know they are ready, we’ll gradually release them into larger areas, until they have the run of the forest,” he said, adding that even once they’re fully released into the wild, they will be continually monitored.
“We’ll miss them at the park, but returning animals to their native habitat is what we passionately believe in,” said Matt Ford, head of primates at Howletts.
“Last year, we sent a group of six grizzled leaf monkeys to Java and it’s amazing to watch them in the wild. I can’t wait to see this group exploring the forest for the first time and enjoying their new lives.”