A monkey which had been in a laboratory cage for 17 years has started 2008 with a new life in Wales.
Crab-eating macaque Pozzi was rescued just before Christmas by Graham and Jan Garen, who run the Cefn-yr-Erw Primate Sanctuary at Abercrave in the Swansea Valley.
They drove to the south of France to pick up Pozzi – an animal destined to be sent on a chemical-testing programme in another part of the country.
Some staff at the laboratory near Grenoble wanted Pozzi to be freed and an email was sent to Graham and Jan who immediately set about a rescue mission.
Laboratory officials told the couple they had “lost” Pozzi’s papers, but the couple contacted Cites (the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) and were told the animal did not need papers to be transferred to Britain.
P&O Ferries, which has helped the Welsh sanctuary in the past, agreed to provide free passage for Pozzi and Graham and Jan’s 4X4 rescue vehicle and Ring Automotive of Leeds rigged up a CCTV system so the couple could see Pozzi in the back of the vehicle.
Mr Garen said, “As Pozzi had been stuck in a cage for 17 years he could well have become stressed with the movement of the vehicle and noise from other traffic on the 850-mile round trip.”
The couple drove though thick fog, snow and ice to collect the macaque and he arrived back safe and well in the week before Christmas.
Yesterday, Pozzi had come to terms with his new enclosure at Cefn-yr-Erw which has rescued dozens of chimps, monkeys and other primates from laboratories, zoos, circuses and other institutions.
Mr Garen said, “At first he did not know how to climb but he has got used to the idea now.
“He has even allowed his carer Sharon into his enclosure to help him.”