Former laboratory monkeys have swapped a life of painful scientific tests - for a new life of luxury at the Ark Wildlife Park and Rescue Sanctuary in Stickney.
The four rhesus monkeys were taken in at the site yesterday (Tuesday) - two of which were formerly tested on in labs in China and the Netherlands. The other two were seized from their owners as illegal pets.
The Ark worked with European rescue organisation AAP to bring the animals to their new home.
The team at the Ark have spent the last two months constructing a new home for the monkeys, dubbed ‘Macaque Manor’ in an effort to give them ‘the best possible future’.
A spokeman said: “They now have a large and enriching environment featuring heated indoor accommodation and outdoor areas with lots of climbing opportunities, swings and ropes which will be a stark contrast to the environments they were kept in before.
“The rhesus macaques are called Wodan, William, Tiffy and Appy, all have their own stories and sad start to life, with Wodan being a particularly extreme example.”
An ex-laboratory monkey, Wodan had electrodes in his brain, and was subjected to tests over numerous years, leaving the skin on his face stretched so tight that he could not communicate with other monkeys.
The spokesman added: “He has now found a friend in William, who also exhibits odd behavior from his time as a trained pet, one of these being his ability to walk backwards, most likely taught as a party trick.”
As well as these new primates, the Ark will also be offering a home to two rescued marmoset monkeys from a seizure in Spain. Two African civets will also be joining the park over summer.
The African civet is one of the largest members of its species and is related to mongooses and hyenas - making for another very unusual addition to the Ark.
These new animals will put the current resident count to more than 200, across 78 different species, of which approximately 95 per cent are rescued.