Our founder, Encar Garcia trained as a biologist and subsequently chose a career as a primatologist, working for 8 years at Barcelona zoo with gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates. She has designed a ground-breaking program for the monkeys that come to the centre which helps them to develop vital physical and social skills and live with their monkey families in a hierarchy, mimicking their natural developmental stages.
Kindergarden - A baby will stay clinging to its mother’s belly or back for the first 3-4 months. A baby orphan on arrival at the Center is cared for by our Nursery Team which includes playtime in specially designed ‘jungle gyms’ in the Center encouraging climbing, gripping and jumping skills as well as interaction with other babies. The Nursery Team also serve as surrogate mothers at a time when the very young babies need the comfort of a parental figure, helping to reduce stress in the baby which could otherwise be fatal.
Elementary School - When they are around 3-4 months old in the wild, they would normally start to become a little more independent from mum and move around the trees on their own, while still with the security of being with the troop. The JRC program gives them around 50 hours every week in a forest area close to the Center, where the monkeys are able to freely roam around the forest canopy which is essential in teaching the developing juveniles how to live and survive in their natural habitat.
High School - A baby orphan will typically be at the JRC and develop through the program for 2-3 years before they reach sexual maturity, at which point they will naturally want to leave the troop and look for a mate. Our program allows for them to begin their new lives of independence when they are ready and when they alone choose to do so.
Due to deforestation for farmland and construction, monkey populations are becoming fragmented, resulting in isolated gene pools. We release many of our monkeys at the La Ceiba release station which forms part of the natural biological corridor in the region. By doing this it will help with gene diversification in the species and also means that we can monitor released monkeys to ensure that they are adapting well to their new independence.
It can be a very tearful day for our staff and volunteers when it is time for a monkey to be released but like a proud parent saying goodbye to their child starting university or going off backpacking, we wish them the best and know that they will be starting their new life in the best place for them - their natural environment.