Benny & Nia


Following a call from Animals Lebanon, work began on getting everything ready to bring home two new primates to Monkey World. Benny and Nia are white-throated, red-bellied guenons, a new species for the park and it was clear that they had been through a terrible ordeal.

They had been hunted from the wild in Benin, before being smuggled into Accra in Ghana. From Accra airport the monkeys were then put on a passenger flight bound for Beirut. Fortunately they were found and seized by the authorities at Beirut airport and with the help of Animals Lebanon, Benny and Nia were cared for until their transportation back to Monkey World could begin.

British Airways very kindly sponsored the flight for Monkey World’s veterinarian, John Lewis, to go to Beirut to give the two monkeys health checks and there was of course the inevitable paperwork to organise before Benny & Nia could legally be transported.

As soon as everything was in order and having received a clean bill of health, Middle Eastern Airlines flew the confiscated guenons to UK. It was a long journey but the pair arrived safely and have settled into their new house incredibly well. Nia is the more dominant and came out of her travel crate with great confidence and curiosity. She is an inquisitive individual with stacks of personality and a cheeky streak! Benny is a much more reserved individual, cautious and nervous of people, he will need a lot of patience and reassurance to help him adjust to his new life, however he followed Nia’s lead, and he to came out of his travel box and started to explore his new home.

After a few days to settle in, it was time to meet their new room-mates! Monkey World’s resident OAP ring-tailed lemur George and Mica the patas monkey, rescued with funding provided by the charity back in 2011 were about to move in.

With everything going well when they met each other through the mesh in the bedrooms, the decision was taken to open the slides. Nia was fascinated by her new companions, in particular George, who she likes to go and poke every so often! Mica is very protective over George and keeps a close eye on what the cheeky guenons are doing but is realising that they are no threat to him and she can ward them off with just a simple look. Benny is still very quiet, but he loves his new outside enclosure where he can once again sit in the trees and enjoy eating the fresh browse.

Rescues such as this don’t just happen overnight, it takes an army of individuals and organisations all working together, a huge amount of money and a raft of paperwork and red tape to navigate in order to make it happen. From British Airways, the Lebanese Authorities, Animals Lebanon, Middle Eastern Airlines, Monkey World and the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund – together we did it and Benny & Nia are now loving life in their new home at the park.  Benny & Nia are very rare and the only pair of red-bellied guenons legally in human care in the world right now, this together with being able to assist the Lebanese authorities to enforce the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in order to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild makes this rescue a job well done.