The Simpsons – Marge, Bart, & Maggie

Another bitter sweet primate rescue funded by the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund. Bitter because the staff at Monkey World were devastated to see the birdcage that their 3 new arrivals had been living in. A tiny space for one monkey to live in let alone three, and had just a single branch for them to stand on which was black with grime. Sweet because they are safe now.

Deputy Team Leader of the Small Monkey section at the park said “We were told we were getting a father and his young twins but on arrival, the father ‘Pablo’ was found to be a female and so presumably the mother instead. It’s fairly frequent that pet trade owners cannot actually tell the gender of their pet marmoset. ‘Pablo’ was renamed ‘Marge’ as she has the most unusual ear-tufts that stick up vertically, reminding us of Marge from the Simpsons, and her twins are now named Maggie and Bart.

All three have many of the typical physical issues we see so often with primates that have suffered at the hands of the British pet trade; they were all underweight, they all have kinks in their tails and spines from poor nutrition leading to soft, deformed skeletons. They all had overly long nails as they had no branching to climb around or on to wear them down naturally, and they all had poor coat condition with missing patches of fur that came from sitting around in their own filth. The two youngest Maggie and Bart have come to us young enough that we can thankfully prevent them from being too physically handicapped in later life, but their mother Marge has a spine that is bent almost in an inverted L shape which will mean she will never be able to move normally and instead shuffles and bunny-hops instead of being able to fully extend her legs.

All three were very nervous on arrival and were very slow to leave their birdcage which was placed inside their new enclosure so that they could come out when they felt ready. For the two youngest it’s the only thing they’ve ever known so they were understandably very nervous to leave it and once they did come out they found moving around the enclosure and branching tough. They had to learn how to jump as they hadn’t had the space to do that before and their fingers and toes were clenched in position from clinging on to the tiny mesh of their birdcage instead of natural branching.

After the first couple of days the three new arrivals really began to blossom and very quickly become confident and happy monkeys. With new healthier diets, all three have gained weight and muscle and look much healthier. Marge was believed to be quite old at first, as a result of her hunched figure but we now believe her to be younger than we first thought, as she has an extremely playful nature. Marge also had a big surprise in store for the primate care team- she arrived pregnant!

As Marge’s original partner and the father of Maggie and Bart died some time ago, we believe that her son Bart is actually the father of these new babies. Interbreeding in the pet trade is unfortunately not uncommon and very soon after arriving at the park Bart had been vasectomised to prevent this from happening but unfortunately, Marge was already pregnant so it was too late! Marge has since given birth to two healthy babies and is proving to be an experienced and competent mother. Bart is very keen to help out and has been carrying the youngsters around and playing the part of doting father.

Unfortunately due to the birth, Bart’s sister Maggie has been kicked out of the group as Bart has now pair bonded with his mother Marge and the two now see Maggie as an outsider or threat to their bond. Maggie has since been moved to a different house and introductions are ongoing to find her a suitable partner. This breakdown in the family group is an unfortunate by-product of the inbreeding that took place during their time as pets and is further evidence of how important it is to know how to manage these animals in captivity. Maggie is still doing well despite being ousted from the group and we are hopeful we will find her a partner of her own. The transformation of these three in such a short space of time is such a wonderful thing to see and we’re so happy we were able to give ‘the Simpsons’ this opportunity for a natural, wonderful life at Monkey World. These are however just a lucky few of the many, many victims that are still stuck out there in the appalling British trade in primates as pets.