Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Lonely monkey finds his Val-entine

Posted: 12 February 2015. Updated: 13 January 2016

An embrace with Valerie ends a lifetime of loneliness for rescued Pepe

The tale of Pepe, a spider monkey rescued from a circus in world-famous holiday destination Cusco, by Animal Defenders International has gripped animal lovers around the world.

The intelligent, playful monkey had been kept alone and chained by the neck for eight years. The circus had snapped off Pepe’s canine teeth so that he could not defend himself, and the world’s leading veterinary dentist had to be flown in to repair the damage. Now, in the most moving chapter of his story so far, Pepe has finally been reunited with his own kind.


ADI has been assisting the Peruvian authorities to enforce their ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, as well as with the relocation of animals seized from the illegal pet trade – a mission called Operation Spirit of Freedom. In January 2015, the ADI rescue center outside Lima received Valerie, a young, illegally-trafficked spider monkey who was being used for entertainment in a restaurant.

For Valentine’s Day, ADI released the heart-warming images of Pepe meeting Valerie for the first time, and their joy as they begin to play and chatter to each other.

ADI President Jan Creamer said “Pepe is a gentle soul with a big heart and we are absolutely thrilled to see him and Valerie together knowing they both spent so many years alone – it was a very emotional moment. Pepe has been incredibly affectionate with all of us, but we knew that what he really needed was someone of his own kind to love.”


As part of the rehabilitation program, ADI experts assess the individual animals and form family groups so they can be rehomed together. Prior to their emotional union, Pepe and Valerie (pictured) had reached out to each other and held hands through the bars of their neighbouring enclosures. Then under the watchful eyes of the ADI team, the two monkeys were allowed to meet.

Pepe and Valerie were relocated to the Pilpintuwasi sanctuary in April 2015, joining nearly 40 other monkeys, kinkajous and coati mundis - all rescued from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade across Peru.

Help ADI care for Pepe and Valerie in their Amazon home

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