Frisky’s Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary

17 11 2008

After we left The Ferret Inn, we were off to Woodstock, Maryland, to Frisky’s Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary, another beneficiary of a contribution from my Oticon prize. Run by Colleen Layton and Scott Robbins, Frisky’s is a private wildlife sanctuary, state licensed rehabilitator, and a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Frisky’s is located at 10790 Old Frederick Rd., Woodstock, MD 21163.

Both Colleen and Scott work full time jobs in addition to caring for the animals and grounds of their 5-acre property. Since 1970, the sanctuary has cared for injured and orphaned wildlife, domestic animals such as rabbits and farm animals whose owners can no longer care for them, and primates that come from sanctuaries or private owners from across the country.

When we arrived at the sanctuary, we were met by Colleen and one of her invaluable volunteers, Joyce. Joyce introduced us to many of the primates, spending time with each and telling us a little about them, including names, disposition, and why they do not make good pets. A sweet infant monkey will grow into a difficult adult—becoming the wild animal it was meant to be. That’s why so many of them end up in sanctuaries like Frisky’s. A pet monkey is expensive to house and feed, and, if a monkey is well cared for, it can live 20-40 years. That’s a long term commitment! Read Monkey Matters Magazine‘s article, Pet Monkey: A Reality Check, and National Geographic‘s article on The Perils of Keeping Monkeys as Pets.

One of the more lively ones was Oogie, a White-faced Cinnamon Capuchin who was featured on Animal Planet’s “Pet Psychic.” Oogie came to the sanctuary nearly blind, with cataracts in both eyes. Because of the high cost of this type of surgery, only her right eye could be operated on. During her recent physical, they discovered she is losing the sight in that eye. Frisky’s is hoping to raise funds to operate on the left eye to save her remaining eyesight. If you would like to help, consider donating to Frisky‘sFYI: As instructed, we kept the “two foot rule” of space between us and all the primates. We were especially mindful of Oogie, who kept tossing things out of her cage at us whenever we passed by. I think I would do the same if I had poor eyesight!

Currently at the sanctuary there are 24 monkeys, two Coatimundi, a Cocktoo, four Cockatiels, two African Grey Parrots, two adorable long-haired goats, a Mink, and various guinea pigs, rabbits and birds (many Zebra Finches and two Goffin Cockatoos). The Guinea pigs and rabbits are available for adoption as are most of the birds (except for the African Grey Parrots).

weeblesThe mink, Trixie, is about five years old and was found in the woods by someone who thought she was a ferret. She cannot be released. Joyce and her husband, Matt, love taking care of the two Coatimundi (one is shown at left) and are the only volunteers that work with them since they have bonded with them. Weeble is a 12 year old male and was a product of divorce. He ended up with the wife, and when she couldn’t handle him, she had him declawed in hopes it would work. It didn’t, so she turned him over to Frisky’s. The female, Katia, is 14 years old. Her family moved to the area eight years ago and when they took her to a vet for her yearly physical, they discovered it was illegal to own a Coatimundi in Maryland. Katia found a loving home at Frisky’s. Joyce provided this photo of Weebles being brushed by Matt, as well as the photos of Bimbo (shown in her cage with Joyce) and Oogie.

bimbojoyce1Joyce also introduced us to Bimbo, one of the oldest primates at Frisky’s. Affectionately known as the resident grandmother, Bimbo arrived at the sanctuary from Pennsylvania in April 2000, shortly after her owner died. Since she was domesticated, she could not be placed in a zoo. Now 37 years old, she has gained a bit of celebrity status in Maryland. Find out what her special talent is here.

The monkey pictured below is Grisha, a Marmoset. He is about four years old and was surrendered when his owner could no longer handle him. Exotics, as a rule, do not make good pets. And this is especially true with monkeys. Joyce said owners think if they get them when they’re young, they will bond with them, and that’s not usually the case. As they get older, they become more, well, monkey-like…and they treat you like they would another monkey. Anything goes! This is why so many exotic animals end up in sanctuaries like Frisky’s.

Also pictured is Sweetie, a beautiful white Cockatoo. Sweetie is 14 years old and was the product of divorce. Sweetie gave us a quite a performance, dancing and cooing as Colleen sang to him. Afterward, I got some sweet shots of him cuddling with Colleen.

One of my favorite sanctuary residents was Jackie, a Vervet Guenon. Her cage was filled with stuffed animals, most numerous were her teddy bears, which she treats like they are her babies. She loves to look at herself in the mirror and I got the shot below showing her doing just that. She stroked and preened several of the stuffed animals and made funny grunting noises while she did it. She seemed very docile and sweet.

The adorable goats pictured below (Dennis, white and Dominic, black) are Pygmy goats, born in 1993. Dominic loves to stand on a metal drainage cover in the middle of the yard. Joyce isn’t sure if it’s because it’s drier than the grass or if he just feels like he’s on a throne! Dennis and Dominic came from a breeder. Their mother had given birth to four babies and that apparently was more than she could handle. She tried to gouge out one of Dennis’ eyes and chewed off part of his ear. The breeder decided to take him to Frisky’s to save him and ended up sending two goats. Both had internal and external parasites when they arrived. Colleen said the vet named Dennis after “Dennis the Menace” and said he was in so much trouble but came out all right in the end!

Frisky’s does not receive any county, state, or federal funding. The sanctuary survives only by public donations. Frisky’s is enrolled in two charity campaigns: Combined Federal Campaign Code #37712 and Maryland Charity Campaign Code #7150. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Frisky’s has no paid employees, so every dollar you give goes directly to help care for the animals. Consider sending a check or donating items on the wish list. Most of the items on the list are simple and inexpensive. Every little bit helps!

Frisky’s website is full of great information, such as things to consider when adopting any pet, tips for saving spring wildlife, information on how you can volunteer, and there is even a donation wish list for items needed to keep the sanctuary thriving. I noticed some of their “most needed items” were bird, guinea pig, rabbit, and hamster food, as well as Timothy hay, so I picked up a few items at Petco to donate in addition to the check.

Frisky’s is located at 10790 Old Frederick Road, in Woodstock, Maryland. Tours and groups for educational purposes can be arranged, but only by appointment. Colleen can be reached via phone at 410/418-8899, fax 410/418-5402, and e-mail at For directions to the sanctuary, click here. The 1/10 mile long driveway to the sanctuary is lined on both sides by 80 foot high pine trees—a really majestic entrance!

Frisky’s accepts all wildlife—regardless of physical condition, mental handicaps, or problems—providing the best care, medicine, and food to each animal as soon as it arrives. As soon as they are physically fit, Frisky’s will return the animal back to nature or the State Park. If the animal is domestic, Frisky’s will find adoptive homes.

On the website, Colleen describes the sanctuary residents: “If it’s not sick, orphaned, or mentally or physically handicapped, then it does not belong here.” She jokingly includes herself in this description, saying, “You would have to be crazy to live like this.” She wouldn’t have it any other way, nor would she accept a paycheck for the work she does.

Thank you, Colleen and Joyce, for the wonderful insight into what you do for all these animals!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.




2 responses

6 01 2009
Colleen Layton

I am always and in all ways very busy. I just want to thank you so very much. You have done a wonderful site that educates and is entertaining. Frisky’s needs you and appreciates you! Happy New Year! Colleen

6 02 2011

Friskys is located at 10790 Old Frederick Rd, Woodstock, MD 21163

In the header of the story it says “Woodmont, Maryland”

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