Cefn Yr Erw Primate Sanctuary Swansea
Cefn-yr-Erw Primate Sanctuary is in the Swansea Valley in the lovely Brecon Beacons National Park area of South Wales. Formerly a traditional Welsh hill farm, the sanctuary now rescues and provides a home for many types of unwanted animals, especially primates, such as chimpanzees, baboons, spider monkeys, capuchins and marmosets .
Cefn-yr-Erw welcomes visitors to see the animals and the work we do. A number of them have come from zoos and laboratories and some have suffered mistreatment and deprivation in their earlier lives. As they are not equipped for survival in the wild we can only endeavour to make the rest of their lives as enjoyable and stress free as possible.
Be A Keeper for a day and shadow one of the sanctuary's keepers in a variety of tasks including close supervised contact with some of the primates!!! Click here for full details
Walk with Wolves offers you the chance to get up close and personal with some magnificent beasts. Click here for full details
Cefn-yr-Erw is currently home to several families of chimps as well as smaller monkeys of various species. The chimps are particularly interesting because of their interaction with humans. Although many have been affected by their past experiences, they have, to a greater or lesser extent, all shown remarkable improvements in both their mental and physical condition since coming to Cefn-yr-Erw.
Their behaviour towards each other has also improved and they have formed family groups. The younger ones have formed a larger family group, whilst Jeremy and Winnie, Peter and Freddie, who were all captured in the wild as youngsters, are now happy pensioners enjoying retirement in their own custom made facilities.
VICKI .....Born on 29th of December 1986 at Dublin Zoo, Vicki is only a teenager. At the age of one week she was rejected by her mother and hand reared. She moved to Penscynor Wild Life Park in September 1991.She moans when she does not get her own way but soon forgets about it. Vicki is quiet, watchful and intelligent with a love of colourful clothes and shoes, which she wears even when sweeping out the bedrooms with her brush. Vicki at times appears very sarcastic of the other chimps, although she gets on well with them and is the artist of the group.
WINNIE ..... Born in West Africa and captured from the wild, Winnie is now over forty years old and has lived at Regent's Park Zoo in London, Whipsnade Zoo, Manor Park, and Penscynor. She was very nasty when we first met, pinching, scratching and spitting with great accuracy. At Cefn-yr-Erw Winnie has made remarkable progress and is now a thoroughly engaging little character. She is the noisiest member of the group and her repertoire of noises and facial expressions is amazing. Perhaps it is this which makes her the most successful at manipulating people.
FERGUS..... Born on 28th of February 1986 at Penscynor (Mother Chico, Father Jeremy) Fergus was rejected at two weeks of age and reared by hand. Although still only a teenager he can be a bully and tends to pick on the females in the group. Fergus's older Brother Twmi steps in and "sorts him out" if he gets too rough. He can also be an absolute charmer and a real ladies man when it suits him. He attracts attention by waving his hand and loves to play tag with Graham around the cage. He is accident prone however and loves lots of sympathy.
PETER ..... Caught in the wild in 1968 and taken to Chipperfield Circus at the age of one year, Peter was moved to Paignton Zoo in 1978 and later to Chester Zoo in May 1984. One year later he was sent to Belfast zoo in Ireland and in November 1987 he was moved again to the Causeway Safari Park as a companion for a sixteen year old male named Fritz.
In 1991 they were joined by Freddie, but Fritz died in November 1995. For over twenty years Peter had been an addicted smoker and used to beg for cigarettes, which he lit with borrowed matches. We have now weaned him off the habit.
TWMI..... Born on August 18th 1984 at Penscynor, is the older brother of Fergus above. He was also rejected by his parents and hand reared from 14 weeks of age. Having assumed the role of the alpha male in the younger chimp group his hair often stands on end to make him appear larger. Twmi puts on a regular display of dominance over the others in his group but is very gentle with people, especially if they bring him some costume jewellery or an old watch to play with. He is a member of the tag team and an excellent vocal impersonator.
FREDDIE ..... Born around 1970 and caught in the wild, was kept by lady named Barbara Howes in a circus. In 1991 at the age of 21 he was sent to Belfast Zoo, who immediately passed him on to the Causeway Safari Park. His new owners became bankrupt and the Park closed in 1996.
Until we rescued Freddie and Peter on January 31st 2001 they lived a miserable existence and Freddie shuffled around in a hunched position. Today he is a healthy and happy chimp and his appearance belies his former hardships.
SUZI..... Born on October 3rd 1983 at Penscynor Suzi is the sister of Twmi and Fergus and was rejected by her mother at six weeks and hand reared. In spite of her small stature she can give Twmi her larger younger brother the run-around when she tires of the occasional slapping session.
Suzi will pitch into Twmi and protect Vicki, who is a little younger. She is constantly looking for new things to play with, especially things outside the cage, which are left too close to the mesh. Suzi is very engaging and (most of the time) a friendly character. When annoyed
JACKY ..... Born at Southport Zoo on the 28th of March 1977 to parents Robin and Jane. Jacky was hand reared by the zoo owners Doug and Carol Petrie and grew up accustomed to visitors and the hustle and bustle of a holiday resort.
Jacky has a habit of making rude gestures and will look for something to throw at the object of his displeasure. He is unerringly accurate and unfortunately his missiles are not always of a particular savoury nature.
JEREMY..... Estimated age around 31 and of unknown parents he was caught in the wild and taken to The University of London School of Tropical Medicine where he was used for medical research. He lived in Regent's Park Zoo and Chester Zoo before being taken to Penscynor in 1992 as a mate for Chico.
We originally kept Jeremy and Winnie away from the main group to protect Jeremy from Twmi's constant challenges for the dominant role. They have now been re-integrated into the group however and Jeremy loves to show off, especially to Twmi and Fergus.
JASON ..... Jacky's younger brother, was also born at Southport Zoo of the same parents on the 2nd of May 1983. As both chimps matured they were separated to prevent them fighting and competing for dominance. It was many years before they were re-introduced to each other, but today they live happily together in relative harmony.
RONNIE..... Was nineteen years old when he arrived from Zoom Erlebniswelt Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. He is a well adjusted character and quickly adapted to a new life, forming a small group with Freddie and Nakima
Ronnie is quite tall and is in the prime of his life. He is well used to humans and likes to have visitors.
NAKIMA..... Came to us from a lady in Belgium who, having cared for chimpanzees throughout her life, unfortunately became unable to continue her good work. You can see from the picture on the left that she behaves more like a human, getting into bed and wearing clothes. Nakima is now thirty six years old but she thinks her new young friend Ronnie is wonderful and follows him around.
Gibbons.. are small tree living apes native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. They are an endangered species, threatened by a habitat loss of thousands of acres per day and a flourishing illegal wildlife trade.
Unlike most other primates gibbons are monogamous (mating for life) and live in single family groups.
A Gibbon family unit will occupy a territory and defend its boundaries by a vigorous vocal and visual display. Mated Gibbons sing to each other in spectacular, almost bird-like duets, and occasionally the young will join in.
There are 13 surviving gibbon species, with colourations ranging from cream to brown, and grey to black. In some species the males and females have a sex-specific colouration, whilst the colours of infants in some species are different from the adults.
Gibbons are some of the world's greatest trapeze artists. They have the ability to swing and leap distances of 50 feet from tree to tree at speeds of up to 35 mph and the fact that they may be 200 feet above the ground does not seem to concern them. This mode of locomotion i.e. swinging beneath branches, while suspended by their hands, is called brachiating. (The spider monkeys of South America also move about in this way, but unlike Gibbons they have prehensile tails which they use as an extra limb)
Beannie, was hand reared at Cefn-yr-Erw, having been rejected by his family at the tender age of eight months. He has his own fan club and keeps visitors enthralled by his antics.
Capuchins.. are often referred to as "Barrel Organ Monkeys" and are very intelligent social animals indigenous to South America. As their nickname suggests they have been "domesticated" and used for generations by street merchants, beggars and buskers to attract public attention. They quickly learn to perform quite complex tasks and to interact with humans.
There are four distinct species, White Fronted, White Faced, Brown Tufted, and Wedge Capped. Their natural habitat is rain forest, mangroves, and deciduous dry forest, where they will forage from ground level right up into the canopy.
They are pretty well omnivorous. Their natural diet includes at least 95 types of fruit, leaves, berries, nuts, seeds, shoots, buds and gums, bark, insects, spiders, small vertebrates, birds, infant squirrels, baby coatimundis, lizards, eggs, crabs, oysters, and at least 24 species of flowers.
Capuchins are fascinating animals to watch as they are so active, inquisitive, bold, cheeky and obviously intelligent
Spider monkeys... come from South America. They have exceptionally long tails and legs in relation to body length. Their tail is prehensile and extremely flexible and is used as a fifth limb.
There is uncertainty as to how many different species of spider monkey can be identified, with suggestions ranging from one to five. Some Spider Monkeys are all black whilst others are shades of brown and may have black hands and faces. Columbian Black and Black Hand Spider Monkeys are two recognised types, but whether they are different species is open to debate.
Spider monkeys, like Gibbons, are Brachiators. This means that they get around by swinging beneath the branches of the trees and as such they favour the upper canopy of the forest. Also like Gibbons they can walk upright on two legs along branches, or on the ground.
Unlike Gibbons however they have a prehensile tail, which is used not just for balance, but as a fifth limb to aid their rapid locomotion and as an extra anchor for holding on to branches. They appear to prefer wet rain forest, rather than dry forest and they seek out ripe fruits, which make up most of their diet, although they will also eat leaves.
Although they may live in groups of average size eighteen to twenty individuals, the whole group does not forage at one time. Only say five or six individuals at a time will split off from the main group to go foraging and these sub groups may be all females, all males, or mixed. Only the males however issue the long warning calls used to alert any separated group members.
At Cefn-yr-Erw we currently have four separate troops of baboons rescued from as far away as Portugal, Ireland, and Beirut.
Baboons are very social animals and form extended family groups under the protection of an "alpha male". Kyko (below) is such an Alpha Male and Bocho is his "second in command". Every group member occupies a position in the hierarchy and behaves accordingly.
Marmosets.. comprise eight species, all of which are indigenous to the Amazonian regions of South America. They are...
The Common Marmoset, sometimes called The Cotton Eared Marmoset (shown left)
The Tassel-ear Marmoset
The Bare-ear Marmoset
The Black Tufted-ear Marmoset
The Buffy Tufted-ear Marmoset
Geoffroy's Tufted-ear Marmoset
The Buffy-Headed Marmoset
Marmosets are closely related to Tamarins and both have fine, silky, multicoloured coats.
Their markings, colours and patterns, are species specific, with each species having unique tufts, manes, and moustaches. This makes Marmosets and Tamarins the most diverse and colourful of the New World primates.
Their hind legs are specially developed for holding onto a limb while reaching for a piece of fruit or an insect and their sharp claws provide a sure, steady anchor. Marmosets and Tamarins gain their nourishment primarily through fruits, augmented by nectars, flowers, saps, gums, and small animals such as frogs, lizards, insects, and spiders. They have also been known to eat leaf buds, but not mature leaves.
Although the tails of these primates are very long and substantial in relation to body size they are not prehensile, and are used only for balancing while climbing, leaping, and running. They are very agile creatures, crossing from tree to tree by running along branches at incredibly high speeds.
The eyes of marmosets are invariably brown in colour and are very human-looking. This makes their faces particularly attractive to humans who have always prized them as pets. Today only Bolivia, Panama, and French Guinea still permit their export, but many are still found in laboratories
Lemurs... are not monkeys they are Prosimians, a relatively primitive group of primates which includes the African Loris and the South East Asian Tarsier. Lemurs are found only in Madagascar and the Comoros Islands off the coast of Africa.
Most are arboreal animals with long limbs, long noses and flexible toes and fingers. The animals shown here at Cefn-yr-Erw are Rough Lemurs, one of around 50 distinctive types of which 17 are listed as endangered, ten of them critically. Their natural habitat is under threat from human exploitation of the environment.
Although most species live in the trees of tropical rainforest the Ring-tailed Lemur lives mainly on the ground, and their range extends into dry desert areas.
Some lemurs are nocturnal and these tend to live alone, whilst others live in groups and are active by day.
One common feature is their method of communicating by scent marking and using their long tails as a signalling flag. Group living Lemurs are very vocal and produce loud "cackling sounds" reminiscent of ducks.
Thunder and Lightening are two timber wolves. Thunder is a male and lightening is a female.
They were rescued from a flat in Belfast where they had been brought up from being pups.
They had been purchased from a farm in Ireland that was breeding wolves and selling them to whoever came up with the money.
As they grew larger and more unruly their owner decided that they had to go and we were asked if we could take them. As you will see from the pictures they are beautiful animals and are used to being with people, but they are very strong and still have wild traits that have been bred out of domesticated dogs.
They are certainly not suitable as pets as they can react unpredictably.
Wolves are social animals living in packs of 6 to 10 animals with one dominant breeding pair which produces one litter of 5 or 6 pups each year. The pups can see at 2 weeks old and hear at 3 weeks. The family abandons the den after the pups are fully weaned at around 7 to eight weeks.
They need lots of space and in the wild have a territory of up to 120 square miles, which they defend against other packs. Humans are their main enemy and the largest wild colonies are in Alaska and Canada, although they have been re-introduced into some American States..
Common name Canadian Timber Wolf
Length Up to 5.5 ft to tip of tail.
Height Around 2.5 ft
Average Weight Males 75 lbs (34 kilos), Females 60 lbs (27 kilos)
Common Colours Grey, Ivory, Light Brown and mixtures of these colours.
You can adopt one of our chimps, or any of our other animals, for one year for £ 25.00, which gives you a free pass to visit at any time, plus an adoption certificate and news throughout the year. Please send us your details using the form on our "Sponsors & Adoptions" page (button below) if you would like to be a sponsor, or send a cheque made out to Cefn-yr-Erw Primate Rescue Sanctuary, at Caehopkin Rd, Abercraf , Swansea Valley, SA9 1UD, Wales, United Kingdom.
How it all started
Cefn-yr-Erw has been a hill farm for generations and has provided a living, albeit a hard one, from the raising of sheep and the keeping of a few animals and birds, which provided food for the farmer's family.
Jan inherited Cefn-yr-Erw from her father at a time when the outlook for Welsh hill farms was very bleak. She knew that if she was to stay there and retain the farm in her family then major changes to the business would be required.
Her training as a teacher and an upbringing where everyone worked hard for long hours set her in good stead for developing the farm as a field study centre and rare breads farm and she began bringing school parties from the cities for extended stays.
As she had to feed all these people and provide them with accommodation, as well as helping them to benefit from their stay at the farm, she was soon working harder than she had ever done before.
Her first experience with more unusual animals was her acquisition of a Vietnamese pig, followed by some small Marmoset monkeys, all of which delighted her young visitors. Next came various Goats, Capybaras, more Pigs, Horses, Miniature Horses, etc, and Cefn-yr-Erw soon became a very interesting place to stay.
In 1994 Jan married Graham, who was a very practical person and an engineer. With Graham's help the development of the farm continued apace with the building of a larger restaurant and more attractions for visitors and the local public.
Penscynor Wildlife Park, a local wildlife centre, was forced to close it's doors in October 1998 and the land was sold off to property developers. Jan and Graham went to see which of the unwanted animals they could accommodate at Cefn-yr-Erw and were particularly distressed by the plight of the chimpanzees, who were suffering psychological problems. Being unwanted by other zoos the chimps were condemned to be shot.
Jan and Graham went every day to feed the seven chimps and whilst they were well aware of the enormity of the task of adopting them, moving them to the farm, housing them, feeding them, and properly caring for them, they knew that somehow they had to do it. It was as if the chimps knew that Jan and Graham were their last hope of survival as their demeanour changed from nervous hostility to genuine affection as soon as Jan and Graham arrived.
With help from the council, the local army camp, local supermarkets, a local brickworks, other suppliers and service providers they worked around the clock to re-house the chimps at Cefn-yr-Erw.
In addition to transferring the cage from Penscynor to Cefn-yr-Erw Graham designed and built new cages, sleeping quarters, food stores, veterinary facilities, and viewing facilities for visitors, incorporating them into one purpose built complex.
Being an experienced welder and fabricator Graham was able to make the specialised galvanised steel structures, doors, locking systems, racking etc himself, thus not only saving costs but accelerating the rate of the development. From a standing start in January 1999 the new facilities for the chimps were built and made fully operational by April 1999. Jan and Graham were able to actually move their seven new family members to Cefn-yr Erw on February 21st 1999.
Since then many more primates have been rescued from home and abroad and the number of species now in care at the sanctuary has grown significantly.
Our policy is not to breed animals for sale or exchange and to focus on rescuing captive animals in need, with a view to improving the quality of their lives. We regularly see dramatic evidence of how animals benefit from a loving, caring environment. Some are very nervous and exhibiting behavioural problems when they first arrive at Cefn-yr-Erw, but with the right care and attention they integrate with others and begin to interact socially with their carers.
Our carers get to know each animal personally and learn to respond to its particular needs. In return animals will often accept humans as if they were a family member.
It presently costs £450 per day (and rising) to feed our primates. In addition they require a full time vet/carer, plus two cleaners. Their heated accommodation and maintenance is also a constant drain on our resources and without help our dream of providing them with a comfortable and secure home for life will not be realised. They did not ask to be kept in captivity and many faced terrible hardships in their earlier lives, and had no future. They cannot be returned to the wild, but now they have a chance to live in dignity and peace.
With the help of others who care about the welfare of animals we can give them a good quality of life with love and affection.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015