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Florida primate sanctuary protects residents with hurricane-proof facilities: 'It was just heartbreaking'

"The monkeys were really upset to be back in cages. I never want to see it again."

“The monkeys were really upset to be back in cages. I never want to see it again.”

Photo Credit: iStock

Hurricanes are a part of life in Florida, and one primate sanctuary is upgrading its facilities so that its monkeys can take shelter during extreme weather.

The Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in North Gainesville is home to more than 200 rescued monkeys. Some, like a male capuchin named Golden Child, were rescued from laboratories, where they lived in small metal cages.

Unfortunately, severe weather can bring back bad memories. Though the sanctuary's monkeys live in spacious outdoor habitats now, workers have had to relocate some of them to cramped indoor cages to ensure their safety during storms like 2023's Hurricane Idalia.

"It was just heartbreaking," Kari Bagnall, founder of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, said per WUFT News. "The monkeys were really upset to be back in cages. I never want to see it again."

To solve this problem, the facility started building additional indoor enclosures where the monkeys can take shelter during extreme weather like hurricanes and extreme cold. These indoor spaces are connected via runways to outdoor enclosures. The project, which started in 2020, is in its final phase, and staff hopes to relocate the monkeys by this winter.

As oceans continue to warm because of our overheating planet, we can expect to see more powerful hurricanes. For instance, Hurricane Otis, which struck Acapulco, Mexico, in October 2023, was described as a "nightmare scenario" by the National Hurricane Center. More than two dozen people were killed by the Category 5 storm, which was the strongest ever to hit the Pacific side of Mexico.

People are coming up with new and innovative ways to help those living in hurricane-prone areas so that they can ride out these storms. One man is using washed-up invasive seaweed to create bricks to build hurricane-proof homes. And a Miami-based company has developed storm-sturdy homes made from lego-like bricks.

As for the monkeys living at Jungle Friends, volunteer Sara Smith is confident they'll like their new living area.

"Capuchins like their space," she said, per WUFT News. "They will love all this new outdoor space."

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