Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Julian meets Lexy - again!
There is a short version of this coming up in the next newsletter...but for anyone wanting more detailed info.....
Julian and Lexy are both Japanese macaques, although neither has ever been to Japan! They were first together several years ago in an Ontario roadside zoo where conditions were not very pleasant.
Lexy was born in 2002. In her early life she was privately owned. If she misbehaved, she was duct taped into a laundry basket. When she became unmanageable, she was surrendered to the roadside zoo along with another female named Dalyla. That was when she first met Julian. Since he was her junior in years, she dominated him and gave him many challenges. In 2006, Lexy arrived at Story Book Farm where she was to be a companion to an aging Japanese macaque, Yoshi, who was retired from bio-medical research.
Lexy and Yoshi got on very well together, and whereas before, Lexy had been bossy and mean with Dalyla and Julian, she was kind and caring with Yoshi. The arrangement worked very well, until Yoshi passed away in the spring of 2009. After that, Lexy lived in her enclosure alone. She is a strong and determined creature, not at all interested in "making friends" with her human caregivers. Interactions with Lexy involved the shaking of the caging and her attempts to frighten away anyone who came too close.
Julian was born in 2003 at the same roadside zoo where Lexy lived. He remained with his family group for a short while, but was later moved into the area where Lexy and Dalyla lived. Lexy beat him up and made his life miserable. In 2006 when Lexy transferred to SBF, Julian was left alone with Dalyla. In 2008, these two escaped their enclosure together. Dalyla was killed during the attempts to recapture the escapees, but Julian managed to stay free for 12 days, during which he hid in the local community. He was finally cornered in a garden shed, but instead of retruning to the roadside zoo, he came to live at Story Book Farm.
Julian had been through a lot in his short life - and he was not a very happy macaque. As a result of being on display and teased for years, he had developed self-mutilation behaviours that would activate every time someone looked in his direction. He was an angry monkey, and could only punish himself for what he had been through. He was housed at SBF in an enclosure beside Lexy. They could see, hear and smell each other, and occasionally they would reach out to each other through the mesh and touch fingers. They had regular conversations - gentle murmurings and whistles passing between the two of them. This situation continued for some time.
In 2011 with the help of our wonderful vet (Dr. Jim Holmes of the Anderson Veterinary Clinic in Ajax who has looked after the SBF monkeys for some years now, and Toronto Zoo Animal Health Centre in the persons of Dr (to be) Izzy Hirji and Dr. Iga Stassiek , we were able to have surgery performed on Julian to castrate him. It was hoped that this would relieve his aggressive tendencies. And the goal was to put Julian and Lexy together - and not produce more macaques!
After the procedure, we definitely noticed a difference in Julian's behaviour. He was quieter, gentler, did not self-mutilate to nearly the same degree - in fact this behaviour seems to have disappeared almost entirely! People could now sit outside Julian's enclosure, and he would come and sit with them. He even accepts scratches to his thick soft fur (not by fingers, but using a stick or other long-handled object.)
And best of all, Julian and Lexy are now sharing the same space. On Sunday March 11, 2012, we finally opened the door between the two areas. Julian was shy and stayed put, but Lexy went exploring and entered Jules' area. There was a little noise - but within a few minutes, they were actively grooming each other. They have not been separated since, and they are getting along beautifully.
This was a great accomplishment for SBF - and Julian and Lexy now have richer lives together.