Living in South Africa, we are surrounded by vast game reserves containing a huge variety of indigenous animals that live in natural harmony only a hop, skip and jump away from our city homes. There are also lots of smaller wildlife “sanctuaries” on the outskirts of the cities, where you can see and often interact with wildlife kept in captivity – offering things like elephant back riding, cuddling lion cubs and walking with cheetah.
We recently met up with Lara Mostert, avid animal rights activist and owner of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani near Plettenberg Bay. Lara is passionately educating tourists to be discerning in their support of animal sanctuaries and activities, as not all are good for the animals.
So, what makes Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani different to other wildlife sanctuaries?
Easy answer – happy animals! Here are 5 responsible reasons why:
Read to the end to enter and WIN tickets for your family to visit all 3 sanctuaries!
At Monkeyland and Birds of Eden you get to walk among the monkeys and birds. They are so used to humans that they don’t even seem to notice that you are there as they go about their daily life foraging for food, playing with each other, sun tanning and generally just monkeying around. A guide takes you on a tour through the forest, pointing out all the different species and telling interesting facts about the primates.
At Birds of Eden, you can wander around the incredible aviary on your own and there are plenty of places to sit and just enjoy being among the most amazing and colourful birds.
Jukani is home to big cats from around the world who can’t live in the wild and need a safe environment after being rescued from circuses, zoos or as unwanted pets. Tours are taken in groups, with a guide who tells you all about their residents and why they are so special.
Lara sums it up simply, “If you can ride it, hug it or take a selfie with it, you can be sure it is cruel”.
Monkeyland is the only free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary in the whole world. It is located in a massive 18Ha indigenous forest and the 550 resident monkeys, lemurs and gibbons live the high life. There are feeding stations overflowing with fresh fruit all around the place. To encourage foraging, staff wander around throwing handfuls of nuts on the forest floor. The cute little primates are practically grinning from ear to ear with their spacious jungle, plentiful healthy food and lack of predators. If I was a monkey, I would definitely choose to be a resident of Monkeyland!
Equally impressive, Birds of Eden is the largest single dome aviary on the whole world. It contains 200 species of birds in a delightful free-flight environment. It has a waterfall, river, lake, forest, lawn, mist system to simulate a rainforest – you name it. These are lucky birds!
Lara and her team strive to give previously captive wildlife the opportunity to live in an environment as close to their habitat in their natural home range as possible. They offer unwanted animals a safe haven where they receive the best care that can be provided. It is all about the animals and the dedicated staff at all three sanctuaries embrace the philosophy that they act first and foremost on behalf of their residents.
The residents of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani are all previously captive wildlife from circuses, zoos and private households when they are no longer wanted as pets. All of the big cats at Jukani are sterilized and there is no breeding or trading of animals or their by-products. The focus is on allowing the animals to live their lives and behave as naturally as possible in a protective environment.
These sanctuaries started from a dream to create a wildlife sanctuary that is a safe haven to monkeys from around the world. There are no handling or feeding shows, no paid for photo opportunities or cuddling or touching of the wildlife. One of the ultimate goals is to educate the public – to change the way that tourists think of and treat animals. Visiting Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani is such a delightful experience and the message comes across loud and clear – we have a responsibility as tourists to help protect our wildlife.
There is no need to touch or feel or hold or ride a wild animal to enjoy an unforgettable moment – just being among happy animals in as natural and safe as possible an environment is an incredible experience and one that will be etched in our family’s memories forever.
(Competition opens on the 1st November and closes on the 15th November 2016.)
Click here to watch on YouTube If the video does not display correctly on your device.
Monkeyland – www.monkeyland.co.za
Birds of Eden – www.birdsofeden.co.za
Jukani – www.jukani.co.za