Located in a picturesque woodland valley with sea views near the beautiful south east coastal town of Looe, The Monkey Sanctuary is a hidden haven for rescued monkeys. With four species of these intelligent, banana-loving creatures as well as a Wildlife Garden, stunning sea views, children’s play areas and an insight into monkey wildlife conservation, this is a Cornish day-out not to be missed!

Here, Sarah Hanson, Campaign Officer at the sanctuary, tells us more about what to expect…

Hi Sarah! Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the Monkey Sanctuary and its history…

Wild Futures began life in 1964 as The Monkey Sanctuary; a centre which offered refuge to woolly monkeys rescued from the pet trade, following a rapid growth in the popularity of keeping exotic animals in the 1950s and 1960s. Recognising that monkeys are social beings and inherently unsuitable for keeping in isolation in domestic situations, the Sanctuary’s founder, Len Williams established the project in Cornwall, on the site where the Wild Futures’ Monkey Sanctuary is found today. 

The organisation grew organically over the years, building from a few dedicated volunteer keepers to an extensive and skilled team of almost 20 people working in diverse areas; including primate welfare, campaigning, education, sustainability and support of overseas projects. To accommodate these changes, The Monkey Sanctuary went from being a private project, to a worker’s cooperative, before gaining charitable status as The Monkey Sanctuary Trust in 2004.

By this time, The Monkey Sanctuary had already ended its breeding programme for the woolly monkeys and took the decision to return to rescuing from the pet trade, which was, and still is, thriving in the UK. The Sanctuary is now home to four different species of monkey. Whilst caring for more rescued monkeys, The Monkey Sanctuary Trust had also continued to build upon its other key areas of work; becoming leaders and advisors at government level, both in the UK and abroad, in the campaign to end the primate pet trade; delivering far-reaching environmental education programmes; winning awards for sustainable practice and employing wildlife management techniques to protect habitats in the UK, as well as supporting primate conservation projects overseas.

So much was the increase in work in these areas that, following a review of all operations in 2009, the current team concluded that The Monkey Sanctuary Trust was no longer a suitable name for an organisation that was achieving much more than simply offering sanctuary to rescued monkeys. It was from this review that the name of Wild Futures was born. The change in name did not mean a move away from the work the charity had championed for decades. The Monkey Sanctuary still exists as a flagship project of Wild Futures and continues to be a primary focus of its primate welfare and rehabilitation work.

What is the purpose of the Monkey Sanctuary?

To provide a home for life for rescued monkeys and to work in line with the charity goals to bring an end to the UK primate pet trade.

How many species of monkey live at the sanctuary and what other animals can visitors see?

The Monkey Sanctuary is home to 4 species of monkey; Woolly monkeys, capuchins, marmosets, and Barbary macaques.

Describe a typical day at the Monkey Sanctuary for the care team? What goes in to looking after everyone?

The mornings always start with cleaning enclosures; we shut the monkeys into one of their enclosures and clean the others whilst they eat their breakfast, and then swap. Afternoons consist mainly of preparing food and giving it out to the monkeys, whether that’s a ‘scatter’ feed of sweetcorn, a snack of freshly-picked leaves, or their lunch time food bowl full of fruit and vegetables, lots of monkeys means lots of food! We also give out medication throughout the day to those who require it, due to our monkeys previous lives as pets quite a few of them suffer with health related issues such as diabetes or arthritis, so they need daily medication for this. We also make enrichment for the monkeys in the afternoon, which consists of various different items to challenge their minds and make them work a little bit harder for their food.

What highlights should visitors to the sanctuary see or do?

Set in beautiful woodland and nestled into the side of the south east Cornish coast between Looe and Seaton, Wild Futures’ Monkey Sanctuary cares for a range of different species of rescued monkeys, giving visitors an intimate insight to a working sanctuary and a chance to meet some of its amazing monkey residents and wildlife inhabitants.

There’s lots to do for the whole family, take a tour of the monkey enclosures and learn about these fascinating animals and the work that goes into caring for them, from a team of expert carers.

Kids will love the wild play area where they can learn about the environment around them and let off some steam in the playground. Take a gentle stroll around the beautiful Wildlife Gardens to see what wildlife can be spotted, or simply take in the stunning sea views.

What do you love about being part of the Monkey Sanctuary team?

I love being a part of a team that provides rescued monkeys a home for life, whilst working hard to see an end to the UK primate pet trade.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Your visit to The Monkey Sanctuary helps us to care for the monkeys that you see and helps Wild Futures continue their vital work.

To find out more, visit www.monkeysanctuary.org