“Your breast implants may have contributed to the death of a monkey”
In the distance, raucous screams and ire over-rule innocence, ignorance and wonder; in protest. A testament, to the skeletons that can’t be addressed by research specimens lacking a hyoid bone. A day, like any other at the Barbados Primate Research Center and Wildlife Reserve.
Across from Farley Hill in the Northern Parish of St. Peter, my home for months, the Wildlife Reserve is well received by tourists.
Giddy laughter and chuckles involuntarily escape the mouths of the curious visitor as Green Monkeys (C. aethiops or Vervet – old world primates) roam free, spitefully harassing resident tortoises. Riding high and proud on the tortoiseshell carriage and stealing bananas from their mouths.
Be careful! They may try to pilfer your earrings. Like crows, they love sparkly things.
Here you will also discover non-native animals such as the Agouti, Flamingos, and Brocket Deer roaming throughout the tropical flora that sidle the nature trails. You will spend an exciting day traversing re-purposed, red, brick paths. The bricks, originally ballasts on ships that transported them to the island in the 17th and 18th centuries to build sugar cane factories, the odd manufacturing stamp still visible.
As nightfall blankets the island, you head to your hotel, kick off your shoes, slurp down a kick-ass rum punch, fill your belly with freshly BBQ dolphin (Dorado) to reflect on a day of exploration; to the tune of steel pans and tree frogs.
Do you know, that you not only supported the local economy, but Canadian as well?
The owners of this paradise are Montreal Primatologist, Jean Baulu and wife Suzanne who opened the Reserve in 1985 with financial help from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
If you had been allowed to explore outside the fenced boundary of the Wildlife Reserve, a little further into the mahogany forest amid a banana grove, you would have discover the Research Facility. The Wildlife Reserve, a captivating front – The Primate Research Center, the reason.
The Wildlife Reserve and Primate Research Center aren’t truly one in the same. Although owned and operated by the same couple, they are juxtaposed; two separate entities with two separate functions. Both, for the same cause.
Imagine if you will a cow and the island’s national bird the egret. A large white bird that adorns the bovine’s back like jewelry eating bugs; one to serve the other – who serves the ‘others’.
Green Vervets roam freely in the Reserve to tickle your fancy. Footsteps down the road they are captives, in cages. Some of them sporting breast implants, well, not any more. Those ones, the explants, are dead.
Given that primates are closely related to us bipeds and, in some sense have similar traits, I would argue it is not anthropomorphic to say they sit and fuss, peering sad-eyed and bitter through the bars of the cages that house them.
Little green Heroes, in the name of scientific research.
I have a first hand account of this facility as a former friend is an employee. The day I chose to visit was explant day – I chose it intentionally because I wanted information.
This was the day the monkeys who had been given breast implants weeks before, as requested by an off island company, were to have the implants, explanted.
Which really meant they were to die.
It was a sad day for the monkeys, or my feelings toward them, myself, and my friend who was responsible for killing them.
A vast portion of the world’s polio vaccines come from here and other research not known to you or I. The facility pays locals $25BD for each live capture compared to the Governments $5BD ($2.50 Canadian) deceased.
During my time in Barbados I had helped set traps across the island. Inadvertently, I must have set them in such a way that rats got the bait and sprung the trap before monkeys could enter. Seems I don’t follow instructions very well!
Jean Baulu has stated in interviews the transparency of the facility and it’s research under the auspices of sustainable pest management and scientific research.
I can probably justify to myself that polio vaccines are a good thing, but I can’t justify breast implants and vanity as a legitimate animal experiment.
I never did discover the purpose of the breast implant experiment that day, which external company requested it or the outcome of the research, but I did learn, nothing is as it seems when one life is lost to save another, or, make another prettier.