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Olivia J.

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2 reviews

Review for Pacific Primate Sanctuary, Inc., Haiku, HI, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My experience as a resident intern:
After graduating from University, I wasn’t quite sure what the next steps would be. I knew I wanted to go to Veterinary school someday, but at the time I felt called to gain more hands-on experience working with animals. For months, while working to save up money, I researched internships all around the world, but when I came across Pacific Primate Sanctuary the searching came to a halt. This internship offered an experience unlike any other I’d seen. The depth of training, including primate behaviors and communication, emergency medical care, colony management and so much more seemed like exactly what I had been looking for. Not to mention, living in a yurt in the rainforest surrounded by monkeys sounded pretty cool. When I was accepted to the program, I was simultaneously overjoyed and anxious about the journey that lied ahead.

After arriving at PPS, I quickly realized just how special the Sanctuary truly was. In all my work with animals, I had never seen a place so dedicated to understanding the specific behaviors, needs, and tendencies of each individual that resides here. Rather than just meeting their basic needs, the Sanctuary gives each individual the specialized care they need to heal and grow, both physically and emotionally. The program here is unique in that the Interns hold the responsibility of ensuring that each monkey is cared for, and the Sanctuary functions smoothly. Every team member has a say in what we think is best for each individual, and being trusted with the responsibility of caring for the monkeys has been a deeply empowering and rewarding experience. The level of training and care given by management far exceeded my expectations, and the depth of our responsibilities for and relationships with the animals was beyond what I could have anticipated.

For my independent project, I focused on what it means to be a Sanctuary and the different ways that we as caregivers can foster such an environment. I created three new documents for the manuals to specifically provide information and instruction on how we as caretakers can uphold the true meaning of Sanctuary. These documents focused on Hawaiian values, interpersonal communication, and the importance of mindfulness in animal caregiving. Through each of these documents, I sought to help clarify how we can integrate some of the more intangible and abstract components of being a PPS caregiver with the more tangible and concrete aspects of the working experience. By adding new types of protocols to the manuals that deliberately blend the core tenets of the Sanctuary—open-mindedness, peace, compassion, love—with our daily animal care tasks, I wanted to make the meaning of Sanctuary more accessible to each team member. Ultimately, I hoped to provide information about how we can manifest Sanctuary in every task we perform in caring for the monkeys.

Through this internship, I have learned more than I thought possible in just one year. There were times that were difficult and times that challenged me in many ways, but through those experiences I have grown. In this realm of work, we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return; Nonetheless, these monkeys and this experience have given me more than I could put into words. I gained an in-depth understanding of primate behavior, exotic animal care, and the functioning of a Sanctuary. I gained confidence as a trainer, animal caregiver, and member of the PPS team. I gained new perspectives on the world and a renewed sense of appreciation for the Earth and all of its beings. I gained strength, independence, and a deeper understanding of both myself and the people around me around me. I gained wisdom and knowledge from each team member, and made friendships and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

As my internship draws to an end, I reflect on my time here with the monkeys, and the ways that they’ve made me smile and laugh each and every day. For example, the time(s) when Sylvan unknowingly dropped the contents of his ti packet to the floor of his Enclosure, then looked at me in disbelief as if I hadn’t given him a snack or was playing some sort of joke. Or the drastic lengths we went to to prevent Genevieve from eating critters that we knew would upset her stomach. I will miss the little things, like hearing Pacey “happy chirp” when I walk past his Enclosure and the way Nikki screams with excitement each day before receiving her medications as if it’s something totally new. I will miss hearing the monkeys call to one another in the afternoon, and the sound of Prospero banging on his metal roof in the early hours of the morning. These sounds, along with the singing of the birds, the mooing of cows nearby, and the sound of rain falling on the yurts became the soundtrack to our lives, and one that I will deeply miss.

I love the monkeys here with all my heart and cannot yet fathom the idea of leaving them. I will miss seeing their beautiful little faces, and the happiness that they bring me each day, however I know that the memories they have given me will bring comfort and joy to my heart for years to come. Leaving them will undoubtedly be the most difficult aspect of my experience here, but I am assured in knowing that they are the hands of some of the greatest people and caretakers I’ve known. This internship has been one of my most profound experiences and has impacted my life in more ways than I can count. Mahalo to everyone who makes the Sanctuary all that it is; I will forever be grateful for my time at PPS and the opportunity to live and grow with the amazing primates here- both human and monkey alike.

Role:  Volunteer
 

Review for Pacific Primate Sanctuary, Inc., Haiku, HI, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am a resident intern at Pacific Primate Sanctuary, and have been living here for about 5 months. The Sanctuary is unique in that our work is dedicated solely to giving the animals the peaceful, fulfilling lives they deserve. In all my work with animals, I have never seen a place so dedicated to understanding the specific behaviors, needs, and tendencies of each individual that resides here. Rather than just meeting their basic needs, the Sanctuary gives each individual the specialized care they need to heal and grow, both physically and emotionally. The Sanctuary is just that... a Sanctuary. It is a place of nurturing compassion, love, and healing for all those who enter. I will forever be grateful for my time at PPS and the opportunity to live and grow with the amazing primates here- both monkey and human alike.

Role:  Volunteer