Carmen Presti of the Primate Sanctuary brings live primates to Buffalo State


Joel Hopkins/The Record

Carmen Presti with one of the primates from his sanctuary.

Joel Hopkins, Opinion Editor

The Primate Sanctuary of Niagara Falls will take on Buffalo State interns when its new facility is up and running, said owner Carmen Presti during a presentation given at the school.

Presti brought five of the primates from his sanctuary to an annual event hosted by the Anthropology Society April 11 during Bengal Pause in Bulger South.

Presti educated students on each of the animals, as well as speaking on larger topics such as non-human rights organizations and animal testing.

“I wish we didn’t have to use any animal in medical research today, but it has to be done,” Presti said. “We’ve got to find a cure for cancer, aids, and it goes on and on.”

Presti also urged the audience to take more care when signing petitions to “free” animals from testing labs, because while they might sound nice, these petitions ultimately don’t always have the desired effect.

“The problem with that is that you don’t realize what you’re doing to the animal,” Presti said. “You’re causing a death sentence for that animal. When that animal’s ready to retire, they’re not gonna give them away to a sanctuary so that the animal can live the rest of its life out in a decent place. … What they’re going to do is they’re going to euthanize that animal, because they’re afraid of the negative publicity. So always keep that in the back of your mind.”

What Presti and his wife, Christie, do at their sanctuary is take in the animals who might otherwise be euthanized, as well as ex-pets that were not taken care of properly.

“Ex-pets is probably 90 percent of them,” Presti said. “The other ten percent are research animals.”

The audience were oohing and aahing as Presti brought his five primates Diana, Pauly, Sara, Emily and Maya out one by one to show them off to the crowd. Presti even demonstrated the proper way to put a diaper on a monkey.

While the Primate Sanctuary does take on interns, it cannot currently take them from Buffalo State. That may soon change once they open up their new facility, however, which is a current work in progress.

“We own 30 acres out in Wilson, New York. And were building our new sanctuary out there,” Presti said. “This is where the primates should be. There’s space, and it’s beautiful.”

The biggest hurdle to overcome, and one that students can help out with, is raising money.

“We’ve had two great years of fundraising, we don’t get any grants, which is terrible,” Presti said. “I wish we could just get one grant and open this facility to the public. … We can take people on educational tours and believe me, we’ll be self-sufficient from there out, I know for a fact.”

“Once we get our new sanctuary open, Buff State students will be at our facility for sure,” Presti said. “We’re really loyal to people who have helped us out.”

Anthropology Society President Robert Flores said this year’s annual primate event had a great turn-out, and the room was filled with both organization members and non-members who came to see the presentation.

“It’s not anything you have to pay for, it’s free to you, you learn, you get to see stuff up close,” said Flores. “It’s not that common you get as close to animals as that.”

Presti reflected positively on the event as well.

“It’s always good to meet with college students because they’re really involved in the environment and with animals, so this is my favorite target audience,” Presti said.

Those who want to get more involved with the Primate Sanctuary can keep up to date with Presti on his Facebook page, as well as his website at


email: [email protected]