History & Mission


Pacific Primate Sanctuary (PPS) is a volunteer-based, nonprofit wildlife conservation organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and permanent care of threatened, endangered, and distressed primates. Since 1984, the Sanctuary has maintained a federally authorized facility for New World monkeys, many of whom have been rescued from research laboratories, the exotic pet trade, and tourist attractions.

At PPS, the needs of the primates are first and foremost. Each primate receives the best care possible for his or her physical, psychological and social well-being. The monkeys are treated with respect, compassion, and empathy. They are provided the housing, social grouping, nutrition, and care that best benefit and facilitate their innate, natural behavior.

Pacific Primate Sanctuary provides refuge and rehabilitation, creating naturalistic habitats where primates have recovered from the trauma and abuse they suffered. The monkeys are nurtured with dedicated care and provided an abundance of organically grown food and forage in an ideal subtropical climate. We grow plants indigenous to subtropical rain forests, many related to the plants found in the monkeys’ native habitats. The plants are grown on-site and provide the monkeys with forage comparable to plants in their natural diets.

One of the ways that we measure the impact of our life-saving work is through the exceptional longevity of the animals in our care. The average lifespan of captive marmosets is 6-7 years, with maximum lifespan being estimated at 16-17 years. At PPS, many of the monkeys have exceeded expected life-spans, and we currently care for several callitrichids who are between 18-23 years old. Animals that were once used in research laboratories, kept as pets, or exhibited at tourist attractions are now living in the green world, with others of their own kind. They can live out their lives free from exploitation.

Caring for aging animals creates a unique challenge for animal caregivers, and our current focus is on providing customized care for the elderly monkeys at the Sanctuary. As animals age, they face many health challenges, including weight loss, decreased mobility, dental problems, an increased likelihood of chronic illness, weakened immune systems, and longer recovery times. In order to provide for the special needs of the elderly animals in our care, we create unique caregiving plans for each monkey. This includes adapting their homes by building secure walkways and adding stabilized branches, providing individualized diets, supplements, and medications, and using behavioral conditioning to minimize any distress caused by medical treatments. The longevity of the animals at PPS is a testament to the success of our rehabilitation and animal care programs.

The Sanctuary is renowned for keeping extensive written records for over 30 years. All PPS protocol and procedures are documented and updated regularly in the form of four PPS Manuals (the Procedures Manual, an Intern Manual, a Management Manual, and the Primate Manual). There are daily "AM and PM Shift Reports" written by senior staff which detail: chronic and acute medical history and treatment, health status, objective and subjective assessments of all animals with medical problems, and current medical treatment. A designated veterinarian visits the PPS facility several times a year to assess the health status of the animals and provides written medical recommendations. All animal visits to the veterinarian are likewise recorded and documented. The Sanctuary undergoes an unannounced, yearly inspection by a USDA Veterinary Officer; (a report is generated and any noncompliant animal welfare regulations are noted).

"On all inspection visits, the facility has met or exceeded all standards set by the USDA. I would describe the operation as a model facility. The knowledge and compassion for the animals are abundantly evident in the excellent care provided for them.” -Dr. Elizabeth Lyons, inspecting USDA Veterinary Medical Officer

Pacific Primate Sanctuary provides extensive training and education to the next generation of conservationists, environmentalists, and ecologists. Mentored student volunteers are taught how to provide compassionate care to vulnerable and endangered species and to understand the global issues threatening their populations. The mutually beneficial PPS immersive Resident Internship Program, offers a unique and valuable learning experience to Interns, and exceptional animal care for the primates at the Sanctuary. Evaluations of the PPS Internship Program and of intern performance are documented throughout the interns' year-long education program. Interns leave PPS trained to be stewards of our precious planet and caregivers of the beings we share it with. The impacts of this experience are far reaching, and can be measured through the testimonials of current and past interns and volunteers, which are available through the PPS E-Newsletter, on the PPS website, http://www.pacificprimate.org and on the Sanctuary’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/PacificPrimateSanctuary, as well as on GreatNonprofits.com. PPS has received the Top Rated Nonprofit Award from GreatNonprofits for the past 5 years because of the positive reviews from our supporters and volunteers: http://greatnonprofits.org/orgn/pacific-primate-sanctuary-inc

Members of the community are offered no-cost environmental education through Sanctuary outreach programs and an extensive website, which teach the public about the need for conservation of native environments and our local, national and global stewardship responsibilities. Consciousness-raising, regarding animal welfare and conservation, is achieved through online newsletters and social media. The insight and understanding gained from involvement with PPS, impacts the future personal and professional lives of students, interns, volunteers, and the public, and affects an ever-widening circle of people with whom they interact.

Pacific Primate Sanctuary is grounded in the belief that all beings are equally sacred. For the past thirty five years, we’ve discovered how to nurture and care for primates. We have witnessed traumatized animals slowly heal and become whole again through our rehabilitation efforts. Coming from research laboratories where, for generations, they had never seen the outside world, their arrival into the green world has evoked wonder and joy. Ex-pets and the primates rescued from the tourist attractions have regained some of their birthright at the Sanctuary. They can move freely through the greenery and feel the rain and sun on their bodies and the wind through their fur. PPS volunteers grow their food organically and plant their enclosures with trees, vines, and flowers, similar to those from their native forests.

Contributions from compassionate people help Pacific Primate Sanctuary keep this good work going— caring for the primates, protecting and serving their at-risk species. The monkeys and their caregivers rely upon the on-going partnership of aware, altruistic donors. It is the support and strength of our partners that allows us to continue being a Force for Good in the World.

Me Ke Aloha No Na Holoholona,

With Love For The Animals…

The Pacific Primate Sanctuary Community


"Pacific Primate Sanctuary is an great example of local effort resulting in global effect. It is an inspiration to see how much the staff care and how hard they will work for such a noble cause. Truly, it was witnessing their efforts that moved me to do my small part, as well."

Steve Heller (volunteer architect for the new facility)

The Dedication and Celebration

On December 10, 2000, Pacific Primate Sanctuary celebrated the completion of our current facility- a general operations building and 20 jungle habitats for the monkeys. Hosted by State Senator Avery Chumbley, we honored our animal caretakers, board members, supporters, and the businesses and trades people who made this a labor of love. Because of the generous volunteer help and discounts we received, the new facility cost half of the estimated price. The building was dedicated with blessings by spiritual leaders of the Hawaiian, Jewish, Christian, Zen Buddhist and Tibetan Buddhist faiths. This, along with an outdoor hula performance, warmed the Sanctuary with Aloha in preparation for the introduction of the primates into their new homes.

Moving Day

Everyone was walking around in a cloud; volunteers were grinning ear to ear washing bowls with hot running water and a roof over their heads for the first time since we started almost 20 years ago. Moving day was really spectacular-portable cages being pushed up muddy hills by 15 people and the big decisions about which monkeys were going into which enclosure. And then, the monkeys entered their new enclosures which, for some of them, was their first time in the outside world. It was chicken-skin for everybody. There was light rain falling, and the leaves were dripping with crystal drops of water; the ginger that student volunteers tended and the Maui Garden Club planted were in bloom-pink, orange, and yellow; the nectar hibiscus was opening bright red; the kukui nut trees were in full leaf. The monkeys moved through the greenery establishing their territory like they were finally home.

Each day that followed, we watched them claim their environments for themselves and for their children-carrying babies on their backs into the outside world, foraging for food, basking in the late afternoon sun while a relative groomed them, totally in their element at last. In the evening, when it gets cold, they come inside and sleep in the soft, suspended hammocks with infra-red lights overhead to keep them warm. We recently took in 10 new monkeys from a commercial animal dealer who was closed down by the USDA for animal welfare violations and the habitats, which were so empty that summer, are now full- 70 monkeys from laboratories, the pet trade, and other abusive situations are now occupying all of the 20 new indoor/outdoor enclosures.

What we need now is the money to run our facility every year. We hope you will join us in caring for the beings with whom we share this earth. Please support us - make a donation.