Primates, the newsletter of Fundació MONA #41

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Laura Riera, FAADA


Primate Rescue & Rehab Center


We have had Susi on the list of chimps to rescue for (too many) years now, and we are fully prepared to go after her. There have been years of conversations, paperwork, and even a trip to negotiate with her owners, but unfortunately the situation remains stagnant. The worst part of all, is that Susi continues to suffer and faces an uncertain future. To give you some background information, Susi is a chimpanzee in her thirties owned by a family linked to the circus world. When she was little they used her in traveling shows, but once she grew and became too difficult to work with, she was abandoned alone in a cage for many years in the courtyard of an uninhabited house in Campello, Alicante. Many other exotic animals were also being kept there under very poor conditions, but most of them have now disappeared without a trace, including another chimpanzee that we know has died.

Laura Riera, FAADA

You may wonder why we haven't rescued Susi yet. Well, Spanish law still allows individuals to possess chimpanzees; so without the approval of the owners (who do not even live in Spain), we cannot legally confiscate her. Thus once again, our attention is drawn to the fact that there is clearly a drastic need for reform of our animal protection laws. The current passivity of the institutions means that action cannot be taken quickly enough, and many animals like Susi end up left to die in terrible, inhumane conditions.


Contact Campello City Council and ask them to take action on behalf of Susi now


J. Pearce

Joan Brull

2020 has hit us very hard. In less than three months we have lost two of our most beloved chimpanzees. We rescued them from a truck in 2001 and they were the fuel and inspiration to start this project. Charly suffered an unexpected heart attack in September. We fought for hours for his life, but we couldn't save him. Sudden death from heart attack is the leading cause of mortality in healthy males, but we weren’t prepared for it to happen to one of our chimps. Nor will we ever be. In December it was his soul friend, Toni, who left us. He did have health problems, but still, it was very painful. We are left with the comfort of knowing that we rescued them from a life of extreme suffering as retired show business stars and that for almost 20 years we have cared for them, pampered them, and loved them to the fullest. They leave a great void behind. All of the MONA primates still keep looking for them there daily. We miss them so much...

MONA WILL BE DIGITISED We’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but the pandemic and the difficulties that have arisen during the confinement of the center have pushed us to finally make the leap. We are immersed in a process of digitisation with the aim of developing a Virtual Campus that allows students and teachers access to online courses and environmental education material. In addition, we will offer "Expert Hour", a virtual streaming content that will allow our educational team to explain more about the primates. We hope to make this project a reality very soon, we will keep you updated.

AMONG THE 10% OF THE BEST EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLD! We are very happy because, despite the lock-down, according to the opinion ranking of Tripadvisor users, our educational tours are among the 10% of the best activities in the world for the 5th consecutive year! Education is a fundamental pillar in the conservation of primates and seeing your reviews and how you share our message fills us with hope. THANK YOU.




The year 2021, a year of changes in different areas of the foundation.One of these changes is in the Research Department, as in 2020 we have said goodbye to Miquel Llorente, who has been the director of this department since it was founded.We want to thank Miguel for all the dedication, professionalism, and achievements of these years of working together. We will continue to work very closely, as he will continue to be the director of the Masters in Primatology that we have in collaboration with the UdG Foundation. As of January 2021, the coordinator of the Mona Foundation Research Department will be a face well known to many, Dietmar Crailsheim, who will combine this role with his duties as co-Head of the Rescue and Rehabilitation Department; we could not leave the department in better hands.


In the context of the project funded by the "la Caixa" Foundation, Cognitive challenges in captive chimpanzees: welfare implications and influence of personality, researchers from MONA, the University of Girona, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, have studied the relationship between personality, behavior and cognitive performance of the chimpanzees housed in our rescue center. Through statistical models, interesting relationships have been detected between the personality, motivation and success of chimpanzees in solving cognitive tasks. For example, the more introverted and less dominant chimpanzees showed a greater probability of successfully solving tasks. More research is needed, but there is a clear importance of considering individual differences in studies of cognition in such complex species as the great apes. These results have been published in the international scientific journal Peer J (Padrell M, Riba D, Úbeda Y, Amici F, Llorente M 2020. Personality, cognition and behavior in chimpanzees: a new approach based on Eysenck's model. PeerJ) 8: e9707 .

Cognitive task puzzle box. D.Riba


With more than 10 years of data collected and analysed at MONA, we have participated in a study that has shown for the first time that chimpanzees present psychological illnesses typified in humans, such as post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. To carry out the study, primatologist Yulan Úbeda adapted the most widely used international human psychiatric classification system for chimpanzees. Thus, she obtained nine categories of mental disorders similar to those of humans. We hope that this adds to the effort to raise awareness in society and ultimately contributes to an improvement in the laws. Results published in the scientific journal Journal of Veterinari Behaviour: Úbeda, Y., Fatjó, J., Rostán, C., Crailsheim, D., Gomara, A., Almunia, J., & Llorente, M., (2020) . A preliminary investigation on the evaluation of psychopathologies in a group of ex-pet and ex-performer chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): A rating approach based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research.


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The MONA Foundation was created to put an end to the illegal trafficking, exploitation and mistreatment of primates in captivity and to denounce their current risk of extinction. MONA has established one of the few rescue centres in Europe that provides a home for life to chimpanzees and other rescued primates, where they can live in a natural environment and where we can learn to understand and respect them.

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