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Huge Rescue of Gibbons and Macaques Underway

After a long-running gibbon sanctuary in Thailand sadly closed, WFFT stepped in to offer assistance to the animals who would no longer have a home. 

The Highland Farm Gibbon Sanctuary cared for many animals, including over 70 gibbons, and over 20 macaques of different species. Many of the animals had been rescued from cruelty or low-welfare conditions, including primates who had been cruelly kept as pets. 

Now, government authorities have given WFFT permission to rescue and rehome many of the animals, with the first fifteen primates arriving safely at our wildlife rescue centre last month. 

Meet Some of Our New Faces:

The Sad Story Behind the Rescue

Highland Farm Gibbon Sanctuary (earlier known as “William Deters Foundation”) was founded during the late 1990s by William and Pharanee Deters. It started as a rescue centre for gibbons, but over the years other species were housed at the beautiful hillside sanctuary in Mae Sot.

William sadly died in 2002 during a tragic incident at the sanctuary, and Pharanee Deters spent the next two decades working tirelessly to look after the animals, up until her passing in August 2022. Unfortunately, there was no will to hand over the land to the foundation or anyone who could feasibly continue the work for the animals left behind. 

WFFT Step In To Help

After hearing that the animals were left in limbo and in need of help, WFFT expressed our willingness to rehome the animals, along with a supporting appeal submitted to the authorities which was signed by numerous animal welfare organisations from around the world – to whom we are deeply grateful.

After months of talks with the authorities, WFFT received a list of the first 30 primates that can be rehomed to our sanctuary, and we expect this list to grow substantially as the situation develops. In total, we endeavour to rehome and rescue around 70 primates, making it the biggest-ever gibbon rescue in WFFT’s 22-year history. 

We cannot thank Asia Wild, Jim Cronin Memorial Fund and IPPL enough for their support to help these primates in need.

The entire rescue mission is a huge operation requiring multiple visits to the Highland Farm Gibbon Sanctuary, located over 10-hour’s drive from WFFT. Our vet team and wildlife experts are rescuing the animals in stages to ensure they arrive safely. 

Can you help them?

The first fifteen gibbons are here – and there are many more to follow! With more hungry mouths to feed, carers to hire, enclosures to maintain, and numerous animals needing veterinary care and medical needs, any gift to support this monumental rescue mission would be hugely appreciated and will help support these animal’s life-long care at WFFT.


Our Mission

WFFT is one of South East Asia’s largest animal sanctuaries and cares for over 700 animals. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates captive wild animals, and offers a forever home to those who cannot safely be returned to the wild.

The charity also focuses on raising awareness of wildlife conservation and animal exploitation by educating tourists and local communities on the urgent issues facing animals today.

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