A monkey is sitting in the branch of a tree, looking towards the camera

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary


Born Free USA operates a 175-acre primate sanctuary in south Texas. One of the largest primate sanctuaries in the United States, the sanctuary provides a safe, permanent home to monkeys.

These monkeys have been rescued from abuse in roadside zoos, as pets in private homes or from animal experimentation. The mission at the sanctuary is to provide monkeys as high a quality of life as they can.

Currently, there are 11 species of monkey at the primate sanctuary: bonnet macaque, long-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque, rhesus macaque, stump-tailed macaque, Japanese macaque, olive baboon, hamadryas baboon, Guinea baboon, African vervet, and tantalus monkey.

The focus of animal care at the primate sanctuary is to provide conditions in which the captive populations of monkeys can live out the remainder of their lives with extensive freedom of movement, choice of food, and choice of companions in accordance with their social nature. The sanctuary aims to provide a lifelong, high standard of care without being needlessly intrusive.

The facility is unique among US sanctuaries in that it is one of the very few to provide large free-ranging environments that allow the majority of the monkeys to live as natural a life as possible with a minimal amount of human interference.

Visit the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary Website

Meet our Monkeys


Close up of a long-tailed macaque

Date of Birth: 2001

Year Arrived at Sanctuary: 2012

Species: Long-tailed macaque

Freeman really is a miracle monkey. He was rescued in 2012 after enduring the worst conditions our staff had ever seen. Kept in a dog transport crate for ten long years, Freeman was never allowed out of his tiny, dirty prison. He was kept in a dark room and his crate was never cleaned. There were six inches of feces on the floor and covering the few toys he had been given. As if his existence was not miserable enough, his former owners also got him high on marijuana and drunk on alcohol. It is a true miracle that Freeman did not give up, but something made him hold on until he was finally rescued. When he arrived at the sanctuary his life began anew.

Incredibly, despite his terrible early life, Freeman grew into a well-adjusted and happy monkey. He has firm friendships with fellow long-tailed macaques, Sissy and Felix, and the three spend their days grooming one another, foraging, and chatting to their human caregivers. Freeman, in particular, is fond of some of his human friends and will seek out their attention when they walk by. He has little patience at feeding time, though. If caregivers do not get his food to him quickly enough, or the food is not to his liking, he will give them a very stern “threat face” to show his displeasure.

Freeman has a particular love of water and, if given the opportunity – whether it be in puddles after heavy rain or in his play pool given to him by staff – he will be found happily splishing and splashing around wherever there is water.


A Hamadryas-Olive baboon hybrid walking in a dry grassy landscape

Date of Birth: 2004

Year arrived at Sanctuary: 2020

Species: Hamadryas-Olive baboon hybrid

Marlin was rescued from a squalid roadside zoo in late 2019 and came to live at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in March 2020. He arrived with his two daughters, Presley and Violet, and was able to experience life outside of a small, dark cage for the first time in his life.

He is a handsome and calm leader of his small troop of three and his two daughters look to him for protection and support when they feel nervous. Since arriving with us, Marlin has learned to make the most of his large enclosure, and has made friends with long time baboon resident, Kaleb. We are delighted at the way in which Marlin and his daughters have settled into the sanctuary – it is like they have always been here!


A vervet monkey standing straight with tail raised

Date of Birth: 2016

Year arrived at Sanctuary: 2021

Species: Vervet

Kiki was taken from her mother at three months old and sold into the pet trade. She lived alone for five years as a pet before her “owners” contacted Born Free USA to ask us to give her a home for life. We are so grateful to them for making the right decision and giving Kiki the chance of a new start with monkey friends. When she arrived, in June 2021, she was worryingly underweight, anemic, and suffering from chronic stress. In the short time that Kiki has been under our care, she has put on some healthy weight, her stress levels are improving, and she has begun to make friends with the other vervet monkeys here at the sanctuary.

She has now met all the other vervets and has made friends with Ricky and Louie. Kiki is surprisingly adept at dealing with other monkeys, given that she was denied a normal upbringing. She must, however, be brought into line if she oversteps – for example, if she tries to take food from another monkey’s hand, she will receive a sharp telling-off. This is all part of her becoming an integrated member of a troop and learning lessons that she should have learned from her mother and troop.

Kiki is a very independent monkey and knows what she wants. She likes playing with friends but also likes to have time off on her own and will let her friends know if they are interfering with her “me time.” We are delighted with her progress so far and look forward to seeing her continue her journey of recovery.


A pig-tailed macaque sitting perched on a wooden ledge

Date of Birth: 1997

Year arrived at Sanctuary: 2012

Species: Pig-tailed macaque

Beautiful Nala arrived at our primate sanctuary as part of a group of 29 hybrid long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques rescued from the former Wild Animal Orphanage in San Antonio. Nala is large for her species and is the only full-blooded pig-tailed macaque in the group.

Born sometime in the late 1990s, Nala was originally sold as a “pet” to a private owner in California, who had her for about four years before giving her up. Early accounts of her introduction to a more normal monkey life are not available, but it appears as though Nala adapted very quickly to comparative freedom and the sometimes intense, social life of her kind.

Due to uncontrolled breeding at the time (we do not allow the monkeys to breed here at the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary), Nala gave birth over the years to four daughters and two sons. The youngest, Natalya, was born in June 2012. Though very young, Natalya is extremely inquisitive and benefits from being reared by Nala, an excellent mother. Natalya’s little mohawk can be seen from across the enclosure, and due to Nala’s high rank, she gets away with just about everything a monkey can.

Though Nala has a sweet disposition, there is no doubt about her alpha position, and her leadership is vitally important to the stability of the group. When Nala communicates through body language or vocalizations, everyone stops what they are doing and immediately responds to her direction.

Her life as a solitary pet in a cage far behind her, Nala enjoys all types of fresh food and spends her days lounging in the shade or sitting by the pool while her offspring cavort around her.


Close up of a Rhesus macaque looking towards the camera

Date of Birth: 2005

Year arrived at Sanctuary: 2018

Species: Rhesus macaque

Oscar was rehomed from animal experimentation into the care of the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary in May 2018. Oscar had never walked on grass or earth and was initially afraid to step out of his transport crate. However, within a few hours, he began to explore his new enclosure, which he shared with Creed, who arrived at the same time.

Oscar has formed a bond with Creed and they were spotted grooming each other only a few days after arriving at the sanctuary – an important part of primate sociability.

The pair are now known as inseparable, loveable rabble-rousers and will take a great interest in what is going on around them. This might include shouting at caregivers if they see them carrying another monkey to the clinic, or excitedly egging on disputes between other monkey social groups. Life at the sanctuary is very entertaining for these two boys, who are always on the go!

Oscar is the less dominant of the two and is more comfortable around caregivers than his friend. Oscar will sometimes instigate a game of water splashing with one of his human carers, and adopt his “play face” to show he is having fun. If Creed notices, he will show the caregiver his best “threat face” and Oscar will quickly pretend that he was never cavorting with the “enemy” by pretending to join in with Creed’s annoyance!


A bonnet macaque sitting on dry ground

Date of Birth: 2005

Year arrived at Sanctuary: 2006

Species: Bonnet macaque

Mig is a female bonnet macaque who arrived at the sanctuary with her mother and father in August 2006, as part of a group of bonnet macaques rehomed from animal experimentation. All the bonnets were born in captivity and had spent their entire lives under unnatural laboratory conditions.

Arriving at our sanctuary meant that, for the first time in their lives, Mig and her family were experiencing natural sights, sounds, and smells. They were initially cautious of their new surroundings and the new sensations – the warmth of the sun, the open sky, grass, and soil. It was more than a week before the group gradually started to venture down onto the ground and walk apprehensively across the grass. As their confidence grew, they became bolder, and after a period of acclimation they began to actively explore and enjoy their new environment.

Mig has become inseparable from another young female, Ecki (known affectionately to the staff as “Lil Bit” because of her small size). They were both only one year old when they arrived at the sanctuary and have grown up together in their new surroundings. The two spent their younger days playing with and chasing each other and the other young bonnets. As they mature, you will be more likely to find them cuddled together and grooming one another in companionable comfort.

All of these monkeys, and more of the Primate Sanctuary’s residents, are available for adoption through the Born Free USA website.