Monkey World, near Wareham, Dorset, was set up in 1987 by the late Jim Cronin then operated by him and his wife. It was originally intended to provide a home and rescue centre for abused chimpanzees used as props by Spanish beach photographers, but is now home to many different species of primates.
Jim Cronin started by leasing a 65-acre pig farm that had fallen into disuse. Once he received permission to build his first enclosures he brought 8 rescued beach chimpanzees from Spain to the park. There was also a group of Barbary Macaques, and a one hand-reared Orangutan named Amy. These numbers grew steadily and now Monkey World has become the largest primate rescue centre in the world, working with foreign governments to stop the illegal smuggling, abuse, or neglect of primates.
The centre is now home to over 240 rescued primates of 16 different species and is rated as one of the most popular family attractions in the UK. In 2006 Jim and his wife Alison had their efforts recognised with the honour of Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to animal welfare. Sadly Jim passed away in 2007 but Monkey World continues its great work.
There are currently 59 chimpanzees at Monkey World, in four different social groups. The rescued chimpanzees are rehabilitated into large social groups. Visitors can also see five different species of gibbons, Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, and 8 species of monkeys; capuchin monkeys, common marmosets, cotton-top tamarins, ring-tailed lemurs, a ruffed lemur, squirrel monkeys, stump-tailed macaques and woolly monkeys.
Two well-loved television series, Monkey Business and Monkey Life, document the centre’s frequent rescue missions, undercover investigations, and the soap opera provided by the lives of the rescued monkeys and apes.
I highly recommend a visit. Monkey World is about 40 minutes’ drive from Summer Lodge and open every day except Christmas Day, from 10am to 5pm (6pm in July and August).
Images © Monkey World.