Monkey Haven is pleased to work with Healing Animals Organisation, a training and holistic centre run by author and practitioner Elizabeth Whiter. Elizabeth is researching our primates’ food choices and how they use food to self-medicate. She picks up a branch from a willow tree… and takes a big bite. “I never feed animals anything I wouldn’t eat myself,” she says, before going back for seconds. “Mmm that’s nice and sweet”, she declares. “It’s good for pain relief and the digestive system.”
The monkeys get excited as they hear her trolley approaching. It’s packed with leaves, twigs and herbal concoctions – everything’s seasonal and has a medicinal purpose. The idea is that if the animals are a bit under the weather, then they’ll pick the plants or potions that could help them the most. “They’re very discerning”, she says.
This is known as sensory enrichment – and when they see something they want, “their eyes light up and then they’ll grab it – they won’t want any of the others to have it!” Sometimes the monkeys crush the plants to make an insect repellent to smear all over their body. They do this with chives and garlic. But mostly, they just tuck in!
Elizabeth is an animal healer who’s worked all over the world with all kinds of creatures including orangutans, zebras, camels, reindeers, bats and cheetahs.
She will be closely monitoring our animals to establish their likes and dislikes, and how they react to the plants. “The research we’re doing here is pioneering”, says Elizabeth. ”Ultimately it will help rescued animals all over the world.”
The work is supported by Anthea Payne, one of our regular volunteers, who also runs Anthea Payne Animal Healing. Anthea believes that healing is particularly beneficial for animals who have suffered from abuse in the past. “They could be helped by energy healing, nutritional enrichment or the self-selection of medicinal plants”, she says. “If the animals are sick or injured, I am able to bring calm and trust and speed-up the healing process. I have even used my human massage knowledge on one Gibbon with a kidney infection and gave her gentle reflexology. For several weeks after her recovery, if she saw me enter her inside enclosure, she would rush in and ask for more healing and reflexology.”
Our rescued primates enjoy their time with these caring volunteers – and we’re lucky to have them supporting the work that we do with creatures in crisis.
On the monkey menu
Catkins – a protein packed energy booster
Ginger – an anti inflammatory that eases aches and pains
Rosehips – rich in vitamin C so good for beating colds
Seaweed – packed with minerals