This Circus Baboon Spent 17 Years Alone. Then, Fate Led Him To His SoulmateAshley Maisano
Tilin the Baboon has lived a sad and stressful life in the circus for the past 17 years. When he wasnât in the ring being forced to perform tricks, he was locked in a tiny cage by himself in Bolivia. Thankfully, Tilin was finally confiscated from the circus in September of 2010 and brought to a sanctuary.
His rescuers were Animal Defenders International (ADI), an organization that helped bring about the 2009 ban on wild animals in Bolivian circuses. They found him living next to lions with a chain around his neck. He had no other primate friend to keep him company. But his new life at Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary began the second they cut that tight, heavy chain from his neck.
When he first arrived at the sanctuary, he was in bad shape. He was deprived of exercise and the ability to move around for many years, so he was extremely week and couldnât move around on his legs on his own. Despite his horrific past, he was still extremely friendly and his spirit still shined.
To get Tilin used to the staff at the sanctuary, they took turns reading out loud to him so he could feel comfortable with their presence and voices. They fed him a proper diet which helped to eventually get him back to full strength.
Being in a tiny cage and being forced to perform tricks for his whole life had really put a mental strain on him. âTilin would spin repeatedly in a corner replicating the behaviors he had used to relieve his past boredom and stress,â James Shaw, founder of the sanctuary, told The Dodo. âThankfully, after time, this has stopped and he is now calm and relaxed.â
Being forced to perform and living in a tiny cage were obviously horrible for Tilin, but what they believe to be worst of all, is that he hadnât known companionship for his whole life. “When we think how long he was living his solitary life, we think what has happened to us as humans during those 17 years; the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, the births, deaths and loves that we’ve all experienced,” Shaw told The Dodo. “For Tilin, his days were always the same. This, we wanted to remedy as soon as possible.”
And they found the remedy. The Shaws learned of another baboon the same species as Tilin who was living with a German shepherd at a donkey sanctuary. The baboon, named Tina, was born at a captive breeding facility in Israel and ended up in the exotic pet trade. When she grew too big for her owners to handle, they gave her to the donkey sanctuary.
They arranged for Tina to come to Lakeview to meet Tilin in June 2011. They introduced the two of them slowly by putting them next to each other with a wire barrier in between. Both of them sat up against the sides of their cages, and yearned to be closer to each other. So, they finally let them meet face-to-face.
âThe moment Tilin and Tina met, they were inseparable,â Shaw said. âThey ran to each other, embracing and vocalizing, then Tilin turned to us humans and, in no uncertain terms, threatened us to make us leave them alone. We spent the next few hours hiding behind the trees trying to monitor the situation in case anything happened. Every time Tilin spotted us, he told us off.â
“The moment Tilin and Tina met, they were inseparable,” Shaw said. “They ran to each other, embracing and vocalizing, then Tilin turned to us humans and, in no uncertain terms, threatened us to make us leave them alone. We spent the next few hours hiding behind the trees trying to monitor the situation in case anything happened. Every time Tilin spotted us, he told us off.”
Today, Tilin and Tina are still the best of friends. A bigger enclosure for them to live in together is in the works. These two monkeys deserve the best after their traumatic life, and they have definitely found that in each other!