By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Located in Newcastle, Oklahoma, Mindy’s Memory Primate Sanctuary (MMPS) is a refuge for monkeys rescued from biomedical research laboratories, the pet trade, and roadside zoos. The sanctuary was founded to provide a healthy, safe, and humane environment for monkeys needing care and treatment.
From 1992 until 2013 MMPS operated under the direction of founder Linda Barkley. She had to step down due to personal medical needs in 2013. Since then, MMPS executive director Jamie Kovacs has saved the sanctuary putting $50,000 of her own money into the 501-(c)-3 non-profit organization.
The sanctuary has also received some funding from various foundations, but now those funds have run out. Today, the sanctuary is in urgent need of awareness and support and is asking the public for help.
“Currently 82 monkeys reside at MMPS – 75 percent come from research facilities,” Kovacs said. “The funds raised would be used for operational cost like Monkey Chow and other proper diet needs for the animals, heat for warm houses during winter months, blankets for new world monkeys, salary for staff to care for the animals, and vet care, as some residents are elderly or might have special needs coming from research.”
New World monkeys are defined as the five families of primates that are found in Central and South America and portions of Mexico.
The Sanctuary’s goal is to educate the public and provide services to promote the humane treatment and care of monkeys. The facility also works to develop a positive relationship with universities who wish to retire monkeys to their care.
The monkeys at MMPS come to the sanctuary from various backgrounds.
“Many were born into, and lived in biomedical research labs, often in small cages, in windowless rooms,” Kovacs said. “As unwilling participants in medical research they’ve experienced stress and discomfort on a daily basis.”
“Some are former pets and other monkeys were rescued from deplorable conditions at unaccredited roadside zoos,” she added. “The Sanctuary’s goal is to help any monkey in need.”
“Without proper funding we cannot care for the animals or continue to give them a place for retirement,” Kovacs stated.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of monkeys in laboratories in the United States, including those used for breeding or being held, is approximately 112,000.
Mindy’s Memory provides housing with indoor/outdoor enclosures, psychological enrichment, a daily diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, and any necessary medical care needed by the animals.
The sanctuary was named Mindy’s Memory after Mindy Sue, the first Rhesus macaque monkey taken in by Barclay.
In addition to much needed monetary donations, items such as hammocks, baby blankets, dried nuts and fruits are also needed.
“Currently, sanctuaries, including MMPS, are at near full capacity and we’ve unfortunately had to turn animals away,” Kovacs stated. “Becoming financially sustainable will allow us to realize a dream to give sanctuary to more monkeys that deserve retirement.”
“We need to provide them with food, water, clean and well maintained enclosures, and expert veterinary care. Diets of fresh fruit and vegetables need to be prepared twice daily and distributed. And particular residents also have special diets that need to be met.”
“As emotionally complex beings, they need mental stimulation every day, therefore we also need to provide them with environmental enrichment (special food treats, toys, foraging devices, etc),” Kovacs added.
The sanctuary is currently in the process of obtaining certification fro the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the premier accrediting body for sanctuaries.
“In the last 18 months the sanctuary has made great improvements in the lives of its residents. We encourage donors to come out and get involved, “ Kovacs stated.
“Please help these animals remain in this safe home.”
Those interested in making a donation to Mindy’s Memory Sanctuary can visit www.mindysmemory.org. To learn more, call 405-387-4354.