Rescue & rehabilitate
Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education. Dedicated to wildlife rescue, care, release and conservation, specialising in chacma baboons.
Why is C.A.R.E. so essential for baboons?
Baboons in South Africa are persecuted and the law or law enforcement does not offer them protection. C.A.R.E. is an essential lifeline for baboons and without C.A.R.E. they would not get the help or protection they desperately need.
With experience since 1989, C.A.R.E. was one of South Africa's first wildlife rehabilitation centres; we have permits for wildlife rehabilitation, passion for keeping wild animals wild, our ethical reputation for success proceeds us and facilities are purpose-built, with an on-site Veterinary Clinic, Nursery Quarantine, Bonding Enclosures and Semi-Wild (natural bush) enclosures. Baboon rehabilitation in particular can be very complicated, long (many years usually before an infant baboon can be of an age where they can be safely released) and expensive (as you can imagine a 15-30kg animal, of which we have over 400 eats a lot of nutritious food daily); C.A.R.E. has been a stable organisation since 1989 providing a refuge for the complicated, intelligent baboons.
Baboon orphans often arrive at C.A.R.E. having been victims of the illegal pet trade, poaching, hunting, trapping, poisoning, or road traffic collisions.
Primates are not pets, keeping them as such is illegal and unethical. Baboons arrive to C.A.R.E. traumatized, orphaned, injured & abused & undergo extensive and specialist rehabilitation. At C.A.R.E. orphans are healed & their transformation is rewarding & worthwhile. They are successfully integrated into a social group with monkeys of their own kind.
Over 75% of our arrivals are under 4 months old
Around 50% of arrivals between 8 & 18 months are ex-pets
100% of orphans are successfully integrated
Baboons are intelligent, sentient and deeply emotional and sensitive beings. Their care and rehabilitation is extremely complex and in the wrong hands baboon orphans develop life-long acid-reflux (with scarring on the esophagus), gastrointestinal issues due to the wrong milk formula and extremely difficult to rectify behavioural issues. Some arrive with abnormal self-soothing behaviours, or defensive-aggressive behaviours and usually having no idea of baboon etiquette. Integration of older baboons into a family troop is very challenging, and stressful for the juvenile (young baboon). If they come to C.A.R.E. as soon as they have been orphaned though, the chances for life-long health, a successful adoption, integration into a family and release becomes much higher.
When baby baboons witness their mother/family being killed it is extremely distressing for them. Being back with their own kind, hearing the noises of nature and the baboons here at C.A.R.E. all around them and in expert hands with our purpose built facilities, means that baboon orphans can get the best chances possible for a life back with their own kind and in the wild.
Our Purpose Built Facilities
C.A.R.E.'s acquisition policies
C.A.R.E will never purchase wildlife, sell or provide compensation for its acquisition, nor engage with a third party.
C.A.R.E. holds permits for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. C.A.R.E. follows South African Law with regards to transportation, acquisition, keeping and releasing of wildlife. It is illegal to keep and transport wildlife without a permit.
All animals acquired must be either confiscated from illegal ownership by the authorities and given to C.A.R.E or surrendered by the persons illegally holding the animal/s.
C.A.R.E works with other Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary facilities within South Africa to ensure the animal orphans wellbeing is always forefront.
Paperwork & general health
An Intake Sheet is filled out & a Medical Profile Sheet created by Veterinary Staff (LEDET - the Government - notified).
Intake information includes weight on arrival, TB test results, and fecal sample results. Individuals over 2 months old receive their 1st tetanus vaccination (they will then get 2 more 21 days apart and a booster 1 year later) and infants below this age will get protected by their vaccines at a later date.
Wellbeing & action plan
Individuals are assigned a Primary Care-Giver to ensure they have a constant, reassuring, familiar presence.
A general assessment is given to determine the best course of action.
Animals without complications will begin the normal rehabilitation protocols, others may need emergency Veterinary Treatment.
Phase 1 Rehabilitation; Baby baboon orphans arrive at various ages in an array of conditions from life-threatening physical conditions, deep trauma and depression, ex-pets with complicated behavioural issues, through to relatively healthy just very young (it is often easiest when the baby is too young to remember fully their trauma). For each individual the rehabilitation program is tailored, however, the general pattern follows our well designed rehabilitation, nutritional, veterinary and animal welfare policies and procedures.
Our Onsite Veterinary Clinic: All orphaned animals get a full health check on arrival in our onsite Veterinary Clinic by trained and experienced staff.
Nursery Quarantine: We have a purpose build Nursery Quarantine, offering the orphaned baby baboons a nurturing, safe and stimulating area to heal and gain confidence and strength. After a Veterinary Assessment, in our onsite Veterinary Clinic, the baby baboon orphan is cared for in the Nursery Quarantine; here the baby will have a care-giver 24/7 to ensure they remain calm and keep anxiety to a minimum, enabling the baby baboon orphan to heal. The Nursery Quarantine allows the orphan to learn natural behaviours such as grooming, playing, foraging, and communicating in 'baboon-language'. Trained care-givers will always be present and the baboon sounds from the troops are always present; a reassuring sound for traumatised babies.
Foster Mother: When the orphan is around 9-12 weeks old they enter the 'Bonding Process' where they are adopted by a baboon surrogate, foster mother. In our onsite Bonding Enclosures which are designed to facilitate a stress-free, calm and successful bonding of foster mother and orphan baby. It is a tiring process for the care-givers but incredibly rewarding once the trust between foster mother and orphan is established and the baby is adopted and loved by their own kind once more.
Understanding Infant Nutrition: Under the age of 4 months, baby baboons will rely primarily on milk. We provide a specialised milk formula for orphans along with a natural foraging selection such as seed pods, lots of vegetables (some steamed), seeds, nuts and leaves. Infants are mostly curious and playing with their foods, their main nutrition comes from a good milk formula. Fruit is mostly avoided since it can be acidic and mixed with milk in their tummies can cause acid reflux, where stomach acid backs up from the stomach into the esophagus and causes esophageal inflammation, which can lead to scarring and narrowing over time. Acid reflux and it associated issues can be caused also by using the wrong milk formula and providing cold milk. Which is why it is so essential for infants to arrive at the centre as soon as possible, to ensure we can provide the right nutrition. Many infants are also sensitive to lactose, meaning a more expensive lactose-free milk formula base is needed to prevent immune-system issues which can lead to itchy skin conditions and an inability to thrive and settle.
Adoption into a Troop: Orphaned baby baboons which have successfully been adopted by a surrogate baboon foster mother will then be returned to the adult female's troop. Usually, the rest of the troop behave as if the adult female has had her own baby and are very excited and protective of the new troop member from the beginning. Knowing the troop members, their hierachy, their personality and friendship bonds helps us to plan smooth integrations and safeguard against jealousy and we may hold some troop members back for a short period whilst the baby builds friendships and trusted bonds with safe troop members; ensuring a network of protection for the precious little baby.
Rehabilitation for Release: We have released hundreds of baboons successfully back into the wild. Although we are not pretending it is easy and it has a lot of complexity and challenges, along with a strict criteria for the release area and the individual is also assessed to ensure they are a suitable release candidate. The rehabilitation journey is designed to ensure the baboons are as wild as they can be and have their place in the hierarchy of a natural, cohesive troop structure. We have a hands-off policy once the baby baboon is adopted by a surrogate baboon mother, meaning care-givers no longer interact to the baboon orphan (no touching, talking, facial communications) to ensure the orphan no longer seeks attention from humans. Male orphans, as long as they weren't kept as a pet and raised by a baboon surrogate mother have an additional release opportunity; since in nature males move from troop to troop (whereas females remain in their troop for life), it means that if the male has been successfully rehabilitated, he at sexual maturity may be able to be released into a wild troop. This has worked well for a number of males over the years.
Unreleasable baboons: It is the case that some baboons are psychologically damaged due to being kept by people for too long in a pet or laboratory setting and they never adjust to become a baboon which can be released; we will continue to treat them as a releasable animal, and when the troop they are part of are due for release we will consider integration into another troop at the centre if they are not a safe release candidate. We stress the importance of baboons entering the rehabilitation journey as soon as they are found in need of help, to ensure they have the best chances of a normal life.