Sophie joined us 1998, and it was to be a temporary situation. We had planned on focusing on chimpanzees, and already had more than enough to take care of with 15 chimpanzees who arrived only one year earlier.
Sophie and her companion, Little Man, were placed in our care under the condition they go back with the woman who owned them once she got her life straightened out. They would have ended up in a dog pound, most likely, along with the hundreds of dogs and cats the woman was caring for. The woman had a shelter for animals that was being closed down — and rightfully so, she was not taking care of the animals properly at all.
She had owned Sophie and Little Man for more than 20 years, and had not planned for their future. Their living conditions were horrifying. The new living arrangements at Fauna were much better, but not really perfect, and the plan was that they were to return to the woman who owned them.
That never happened; they were in our care permanently. We renovated an abandoned building to give them much more space and outdoor access, and then soon after that we rebuilt the house for them and for the others that followed — Pougi, then Theo, Darla, Newton, and finally Eugene.
Sophie was in the pet trade, initially in a pet shop. In those days you could see monkeys for sale everywhere, alongside puppies and tropical fish. Someone did buy Sophie, but after she behaved like a normal monkey and bit when being restrained, she was returned. That is how the woman who “rescued” her told the story.
Sophie did have the same companion for most of her life — Little Man. They were extremely close, and she was always protective of him, and certainly loved him with all of her heart. While he was ill with a heart condition, she never left his side and was attentive and loving until the day he died. His death was so hard on her, and we all felt deeply sad for her to be left behind, and thought that she would never make it without him.
Thankfully she had friends on the other side of the bars — Darla, Newton, Pougi and Theo. Each one she cared about, in particular Darla and Pougi. When Pougi lost his sight, he changed a lot. It was difficult for him to get around, and he was very lonely. He would often go close to the caging where Sophie would groom him through the holes. He loved this time, and was comforted by her touch.
Although they were not the same species of monkey — he a Crab-eating Macaque, she a Capuchin — there was not much difference in size. Only 10 pounds, but still…in the monkey world, not the same. But he was not as much of a threat, and Sophie was lonely, so one day we let them spend the day together. It went very well, so we did it again, until they would not part. Sophie took over the responsibility of taking care of her new friend, Pougi. She was as loving and kind to him as she was to her deceased companion. It was a beautiful relationship, and it taught us so much about her strength and her courage. She was a remarkable little monkey.
When Pougi passed away Sophie was devastated, and with the stress of it all, it seemed she had a stroke. The stroke left her with another problem. When Sophie came to us in 1998, she had been bitten by a dog on one of her hands. The hand was not treated properly, no antibiotics given or any therapy, so she eventually lost full use of her hand. Sadly the stroke affected the use of her good hand and arm. It was quite amazing to see how well she has did considering all the obstacles.
The staff of Fauna cared for Sophie in an exceptional way, as she could not climb as well as she used to, and as a senior, was very shaky and frail. Sophie was our matriarch of the Monkey House, and adored by all. She will be dearly missed.