Mounia, a Barbary macaque, was snatched from her parents and sold into the illegal pet trade. However her life was transformed when she was rescued and given a new home at Monkey Haven on the Isle of Wight…
My name is Mounia and this is my story. I was born in early 2010 in the Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa. My mother and father would have shared the responsibility of looking after me with all the other monkeys in our troop. Sadly I don’t remember much about life in the Atlas Mountains; I was only a baby when the poachers came.
They took me from my family and smuggled me into Europe where I was eventually sold to a pub in Belgium. My owner chained me to the bar and used me as the pub mascot whilst drunken customers were encouraged to feed me cigarettes and teach me to smoke. Eventually I was rescued by a kind man who had to pay 300 euros to take me away. I was then sent to the AAP Rescue Centre for Exotic Animals in the Netherlands.
At the AAP I was introduced to five other rescued Barbary macaques. The lead female of the group – Mouki – immediately took me under her wing and helped me integrate with the troop. Mouki was rescued from a house in Greece where she was being kept as a pet. The four other macaques – Yilda, Nanushka, Geertje and Anou – had all come from the illegal pet trade too. The humans at the AAP soon contacted Monkey Haven (then called Owl & Monkey Haven) on the Isle Of Wight, who agreed to take us all.
The people at Monkey Haven got to work building us a very special new enclosure and within 12 months our beautiful home was ready.
We arrived on the Isle of Wight in January 2014 and were released into our enclosure almost immediately.
We have separate grass and gravel areas, as well as caves to shelter and rest in, plus a pool with a cascading waterfall! Within the first few weeks we had settled in and established bonds with our keepers, and it wasn’t long before students from the University of Portsmouth – already studying Monkey Haven’s Rhesus macaques – recognised our potential and began giving us tasks to complete. Some of
the other monkeys didn’t want to participate, but I loved it, and have helped the university in their understanding of facial recognition abilities in macaques.
Although I can never go back to Africa – I was taken when I was too young to have learnt the survival skills for the wild – I now live in a safe haven for all kinds of rescued primates, including gibbons, capuchins, marmosets and leaf monkeys.
You can come and meet us all at Monkey Haven – just don’t forget to say hello to me! It’s really fun here, we’re well looked after and we love meeting all our visitors. You’ll have a great time and you’ll be helping to support other monkeys in need. Hope to see you soon!