People for Animals founds Delhi shelter for ex-laboratory monkeys
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2003:
DELHI–Gautam Grover, president of the Delhi chapter of
People for Animals, has “started a shelter for monkeys called
Hanuman Vatika,” he recently wrote to ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“We get monkeys from research labs,” Grover explained.
“Most are old and deformed [from experimentation] and are incapable
of survival in the wild. We also have infants who have had a
terrible past,” Grover added. “For example an infant came to me
whose mother was killed by dogs. The infant was clinging to her,
crying. We called the infant Chiku. He now has a new mother, named
Basanti, and a new father, called Dharmender.”
Hanuman Vatika now has more than 100 monkeys, attended by a
human staff of 12, Grover said. But it does not yet have adequate
funding to ensure stability and permit expansion. Ahead is the long
task of educating people who are sympathetic to monkeys about the
distinctions among sanctuaries, zoos, and Hanuman temples.
Finding suitable accommodations for rescued or retired
laboratory monkeys is an enormous task for the activists of any
nation. In India, even though it is also no small task, it is
simultaneously the smallest part of solving the surplus monkey
problem, as successful Animal Birth Control programs have markedly
reduced the numbers of dogs on the streets of many cities, allowing
macaques and languors to take over the habitat and food sources. The
primary importance of sheltering ex-lab monkeys in India might even
be that it gives animal advocates the opportunity to learn how to
humanely prevent unwanted reproduction.
Hanuman temples are the traditional Indian safe havens for
street macaques and languors. At one time the basic Indian monkey
control strategy was to try to keep urban monkey populations in
proximity to the local Hanuman temple, where they were welcome and
would presumably not get into trouble.
That concept, these days, is mostly just a theory. Built
in honor of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, the best temples provide
semi-natural habitat for monkey colonies who are fed by the offerings
of the visiting faithful–but there are no longer many of these in
urban areas. Instead, self-proclaimed “holy men” squat in ruins,
throw garbage about to attract monkeys, and aggressively beg from
passers-by, becoming almost as common and problematic in India as
are animal hoarders in the U.S. who claim to be running no-kill
Many Indians are as fond of monkeys as Americans are of dogs
and cats, but too many monkeys in a city may be even more
problematic than free-roaming dog packs and fast-proliferating feral
Monkeys are not as fecund as either dogs or cats, but a
monkey bite is much more likely to transmit infection than either a
dog or cat bite, monkeys can go anywhere that either dogs or cats
can and more, monkeys are smarter, they eat almost everything that
humans do, and they can open doors for themselves.
Some exasperated people respond to monkey incursions as they
do toward dogs and cats who annoy them–like whoever poisoned 50
monkeys in Muttara, Kerala, in February. Only one baby survived.
As macaques and languors are native to India, and abundant,
trying to provide sanctuary care to those who can fend for themselves
and stay out of trouble is not a realistic option. Instead, People
for Animals has been investigating ways and means of starting Animal
Birth Control programs for monkeys who are too well habituated to
urban living to be returned to the wild.
Catching monkeys for surgical sterilization is much harder
than catching street dogs, however. Human contraceptive implants
work in female monkeys, but males must be vasectomized, not
castrated, to avoid rejection by their troupes, which makes them
more likely to depend on human food sources.
However, vasectomizing monkeys in a manner that precludes
natural reversal within a matter of months is notoriously difficult.
The longterm answer, in dealing with both male and female
monkeys, may be finding a safe and reliable birth control vaccine.
[Contact Hanuman Vatika, c/o Gautam Grover, People for
Animals, BA/1A, Ashok Vihar – 1, Delhi – 110052, India;