A WHOPPING 731 primates and big cats seized during anti-smuggling and illegal possession investigations across Europe remain on the waiting list for rehabilitation at southern Europe’s largest exotic animal rescue centre in Villena.
Included in the total are 443 apes and monkeys, 66 felines, 48 of which qualify as ‘big’ cats, and 222 other exotic mammals, all of which are standing by for admission to the AAP Primadomus International Foundation according to director, Pilar Jornet.
The centre occupies over 20 hectares on the border between Alicante, Murcia, and Albacete, where it currently houses more than 100 primates and sixteen bug cats, some of which were rescued from circuses, travelling shows, or zoos in which sanitary conditions were deemed unsuitable.
Each animal tends to stay around three years before being relocated , and the centre was the first in Spain to be accredited by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It was inaugurated in 2009 by legendary British primatologist Jane Goodall, who won the Prince of Asturias award in 2003.
Almost half of the animals being cared for are Barbary macaques, those Old World monkeys normally associated with the Rock of Gibraltar, which are among those species most threatened by Europe’s illegal wildlife trade.
Other occupants include chimpanzees, marmosets, talapoins, vervets, pig-tailed macaques, squirrel monkeys, capuchins, blue monkeys, pumas, leopards, lions and tigers.