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Peaceable Primate Sanctuary Founder Talks Vision, Community & Upcoming Baboon Fest

Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Winamac, with its charming downtown and courthouse which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is probably best recognized as the county seat of Pulaski County. Few people may know that just about 20 minutes away from the shopping area is Peaceable Primate Sanctuary, a refuge for baboons that have previously lived in research facilities or were involved in the pet and entertainment industries. 

Although it is not a zoo, the facility located at 6415 North 800 West, does open its doors to the public at specific designated times throughout the year for fundraising events.

Founder and Director Scott Kubisch has always had a deep love for animals. After finishing high school, he began working in a series of animal-related jobs and amassed 20 years of employment experience in the Zoo field. Although this is the fourth year the sanctuary has housed baboons, Kubisch started developing the idea for the facility 17 years ago.

“Through my work, I had seen photos of primates in research labs,” he says. “I started to research what happens to the animals when they ‘retire.’ I found out there were chimpanzee and ape sanctuaries but none dedicated baboons. These monkeys needed a place.”

When asked where the baboons come from Kubisch answers, “85% are from research facilities throughout the country — California, New York and Texas. These have had a good life and have been treated well but need a place to live once their research study is over. Ten to 15% come from roadside zoos and pet trade. We consider these rescues since the people who owned them came to realize they don’t make good pets.”

Baboons are warm weather primates that don’t like the cold but do enjoy a lot of space to roam in. The sanctuary has extensive indoor areas with big windows, lots of light and plenty of airflow for the winter months. Outside areas are reinforced with very strong fencing and can be as large as a quarter of an acre.

Just like humans, baboons need dental and medical attention and the sanctuary prides itself on giving its residents the best and most up to date care available. The facility has state of the art x-ray, ultrasound and dental equipment needed not only routine check-ups but also if an emergency would occur. As the population of baboons increases, a larger clinic will be needed to meet increased needs.

“Our current Animal Clinic Campaign is striving to raise $125,000 to build a new clinic,” Kubisch says. “When we bring a new baboon in, we need quarantine areas to keep them separate from the other animals for a period of time. And, as our numbers grow, we have to keep the sick baboons separate and allow our veterinarians to give them the medical care and attention they need.”

On Sunday, October 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the public will have the chance to view the facility during the 2019 Annual Baboon Fest. Traditionally their biggest fundraising event, it features guided tours, live music, food, raffles and events for kids. Last year it was attended by more than 600 people. As in years past, school supplies that will benefit local elementary students will be collected. The event will be held rain or shine with an entrance fee of $10 for adults and free admittance for children. 

“Patrons who belong to our Monkey Club can attend the Baboon Fest and all other fundraising events for free,” Kubisch adds. “They can also call the sanctuary and set up a date for a guided tour from one of the animal caretakers. Membership starts at only $35 and includes a certificate. We can split up anyone’s donation into monthly payments through us or a credit card. It spreads it out so it’s easier to afford and an easy way to donate. For us, it helps to have money coming in each month for budgeting but also because we run entirely on donations. We receive no federal or state support for what we do.

“The Peaceable Primate Sanctuary is my vision for the lifelong care and safety of baboons. Each one has personality and soul. They deserve to live out the rest of their life in a stimulating environment and with dignity.”

Visit Peaceable Primate Sanctuary on Facebook, online at BaboonSanctuary.org or give them a call at 574-896-0590 for more information. Peaceable Primate Sanctuary is located at 6415 North 800 West in Winamac, Indiana. 

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