Primates Incorporated in Marquette County is essentially a retirement home for monkeys. The facility here in the 608 is one of only nine of its kind in the entire country.

WESTFIELD, Wis. – Primates Incorporated in Marquette County is essentially a retirement home for monkeys. The facility here in the 608 is one of only nine of its kind in the entire country.

“We really want to see natural behavior, so that’s part of our rehabilitation process,” said Amy Kerwin, president and founder of Primates Incorporated. “They’re just really beautiful monkeys, but they’re really meant to be in the wild, so this is the least we can do for them, is provide them with retirement with each other versus humans.”

While working in the lab at the University of Wisconsin, Kerwin founded the only sanctuary in the state eighteen years ago. Eleven monkeys now enjoy the freedom from the pet trade, the entertainment industry and labs, where scientists studied the primates because of their similarities to humans.

“I thought that since we were getting funding to test on them because of their similarities, the very least we could do is send them to sanctuaries after,” Kerwin added.

Alyssa Smolensky started off as a volunteer with the non-profit but is now on the board of directors.

“All animals should be retired, and I think it’s kind of a universal mission that everyone can get behind, and I really connected strongly with it,” Smolensky said. “Every time we retire a monkey, and they get to go outside for the first time, they get to see other monkeys, make friends, groom each other and play, it’s always really amazing to see how they relax, and how enjoy their lives. Some of them have never experienced that before.”

More folks from across the country are contacting the facility, so expansion projects are on the table.

Their current building is near capacity, so there is a waitlist for primates waiting to be retired. Because of the specific care these monkeys need every day, it takes a village to get the job done.

“I’ve made it my life’s work, but I needed to involve the community over the years and increase awareness about the need to help them,” Kerwin added.

The non-profit needs to raise $600,000 to construct two new buildings and cover the expenses of several years’ worth of care.  Officials say this will give them the opportunity to retire dozens of deserving monkeys and provide the medical attention they need.

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Josh Spreiter is an anchor for News 3 Now This Morning. If you have a person or place you'd like to see featured on In the 608, send an e-mail to inthe608@wisctv.com. Hometown: Litchfield, MN High School: Litchfield High School College: Southwest Minnesota State University Other Journalism Experience: WOWT, KSNB, WEAU, WCCO, KLFD Started at News 3 Now on: June 2018 What is your favorite part about living in Madison? I love its diversity. The people are so accepting. There is also so much to do and see! What is the biggest news story that you’ve covered?  When I worked in Omaha, my photographer and I chased severe storms in southwest Iowa. We were the first ones on scene of a home destroyed by a tornado as the family came out of their shelter. We captured it all on live television. We even beat emergency crews there. What do you like to do in your spare time?  I’m a certified yoga teacher so I love spending time on the mat. I also enjoy spending time exploring outdoors. What is your favorite kind of ice cream?  Butter Brickle is my everything! What is your favorite place to vacation?  I love cruising in the Caribbean. Who is your hero and why?  My Grandma Peg Shaw is my hero. She is the kindest and most humble person I know. She puts others first and never complains about anything. What is your favorite sport to play or watch?  I grew up in a big hockey family in Minnesota. I played all the way through high School. What is your favorite tradition around the holidays?  I love spending time with family. I’m lucky enough to live and work close to home so getting together with my family is still pretty easy to do. What is your favorite song of all time? I’m a big fan of The Chainsmokers. It would probably come down to “Closer,” “Something Just Like This,” or “Paris.” What is your favorite movie of all time?  Miracle on Ice. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?  The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to stay positive. There are many time in life we go through rough patches, but staying positive and looking forward always helps me overcome obstacles. If you could relive any moment, what would that be?  If I could relive any moment, I think it would be the first time I experienced live television as a reporter down the road in Eau Claire. I remember how nervous I was thinking I’d screw up. When I look back, I realize it was no big deal.