Wildlife volunteer tells of caged animal fears

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A CITY wildlife welfare volunteer has returned from a rescue mission to Greece and spoken of the terrible conditions he found rare monkeys had been forced to live in.

A CITY wildlife welfare volunteer has returned from a rescue mission to Greece and spoken of the terrible conditions he found rare monkeys had been forced to live in.David Barnes (57) is back at his home in Newark Avenue, after his mercy mission to the island of Aegina, near Athens, where a number of monkeys, snakes and other animals were being kept in a rescue shelter.

However, while the monkeys, including an endangered sooty mangaby, had been taken in to to prevent them falling into the hands of private owners who kept them as pets, the shelter where they had been taken was not suitable, he said. The monkeys were cramped into tiny cages with no room for exercise.

Mr Barnes said the cages being used were far too small for the creatures.

He said: "The sanctuary had eight monkeys, two skunks, a raccoon and two pythons, along with a large number of birds of prey.

"Many of the animals, including the skunks, had been taken from pet shops. But because the sanctuary is predominantly a bird sanctuary, the cages were not suitable.

"Between some cages were some of the birds, which is not very good for the monkeys.

"The place is also run by a variety of volunteers, from all over the world. Monkeys need routines, and they are not getting that."

Mr Barnes has now arranged for the exotic animals to be transferred to a rescue centre in Holland, which specialises in looking after them.

Mr Barnes, the former chief executive of the animal welfare society in Greece, who has been involved in similar rescue missions in the past, but now works in Peterborough Cathedral's shop, said there was still a major problem with the care of animals in Greece.

He said: "It is still a fashion statement to have a pet monkey in Greece.

"When the Olympics were held, the authorities clamped down on exotic pets, but they are starting to become more popular again.

"I have seen wallabies being sold in bird cages in Greek pet shops.

"It should not be happening in a European Union country, but it still is. The regulations need to be tighter.

"However, there are a lot of groups who do want to make a difference, but it will be a long process."