Jan (left) inherited what was at that time a farm named Cefn-yr-Erw from her father
at a time when the outlook for Welsh hill farms was very bleak. She knew that if
she was to stay there and retain the farm in her family then major changes to the
business would be required.
Her training as a teacher and an upbringing where everyone worked hard for long hours
set her in good stead for developing the farm as a field study centre and rare breads
farm and she began bringing school parties from the cities for extended stays.
As she had to feed all these people and provide them with accommodation, as well
as helping them to benefit from their stay at the farm, she was soon working harder
than she had ever done before.
Her first experience with more unusual animals was her acquisition of a Vietnamese
pig, followed by some small Marmoset monkeys, all of which delighted her young visitors.
Next came various Goats, Capybaras, more Pigs, Horses, Miniature Horses, etc, and
Cefn-yr-Erw soon became a very interesting place to stay.
In 1994 Jan married Graham (above right), who was a very practical person and an
engineer. With Graham's help the development of the farm continued apace with the
building of a larger restaurant and more attractions for visitors and the local public.
Penscynor Wildlife Park, a local wildlife centre, was forced to close it's doors
in October 1998 and the land was sold off to property developers. Jan and Graham
went to see which of the unwanted animals they could accommodate and were particularly
distressed by the plight of the chimpanzees, who were suffering psychological problems.
Being unwanted by other zoos the chimps were condemned to be shot.
Jan and Graham went every day to feed the seven chimps and whilst they were well
aware of the enormity of the task of adopting them, moving them to the farm, housing
them, feeding them, and properly caring for them, they knew that somehow they had
to do it. It was as if the chimps knew that Jan and Graham were their last hope
of survival as their demeanour changed from nervous hostility to genuine affection
as soon as Jan and Graham arrived.
With help from the council, the local army camp, local supermarkets, a local brickworks,
other suppliers and service providers they worked around the clock to re-house the
chimps at Cefn-yr-Erw. In addition to transferring the cage from Penscynor Graham
designed and built new cages, sleeping quarters, food stores, veterinary facilities,
and viewing facilities for visitors, incorporating them into one purpose built complex.
Being an experienced welder and fabricator Graham was able to make the specialised
galvanised steel structures, doors, locking systems, racking, etc, himself, thus
not only saving costs, but accelerating the rate of the development. From a standing
start in January 1999 the new facilities for the chimps were built and made fully
operational by April 1999. Jan and Graham were able to actually move their seven
new family members to Cefn-yr Erw on February 21st 1999.
Since then many more primates have been rescued from home and abroad and the number
of species now in care at the sanctuary has grown significantly. You can see some
of these animals by clicking on the buttons at the top of this page.
Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary has been a hill farm for generations and has provided
a living, albeit a hard one, from the raising of sheep and the keeping of a few animals
and birds, which provided food for the farmer's family.