RESCUED Capuchin monkeys are in need of flowers and herbs to help them blossom in their Dorset home.

In the largest rescue of its kind in the world, Monkey World near Wool liberated 88 capuchin monkeys from a medical lab in Santiago in January, and flew them by Chilean Air Force Hercules transporter to Bournemouth.

The primates had been kept in solitary confinement in small indoor cages, some for as many as 20-years and subjected to invasive medical tests.

To aid the recovery of the capuchins, the ape rescue centre has launched an appeal for donations of herbs and flowers.

"The monkeys rub many plants - such as garlic, onion and fennel - on their fur," said Dr Marina Kenyon, who has worked with the capuchins for nine years. "They do this as part of a bonding exercise as well as using the herbs as insecticides to prevent against biting insects in the warmer months.

"Many of the capuchins we have were taken from the wild as infants or born in captivity, so providing them with herbs and flowers they can use is a great way of encouraging their natural behaviour," she said.

The 88 rescued primates, whose ages range from two to 30, had to have a special home built for them, and were gradually socialised in groups, as they would live in the wild.

"With such a large increase in our capuchin family we would welcome members of the public wishing to bring in rooted herbs such as these, as well as a number of seedlings and rooted plants that gibbons and woolly monkeys can use," said Dr Kenyon.

Monkey World is appealing for rooted plants or seeds of fennel, nasturtiums, onion plant, lemon balm, marigolds, climbing fig, banana plant, garlic plants, hibiscus, chives, chilli plants, camomile, fuchsia, bamboo and lavender.

As many will be eaten, donated plants should not have been treated with chemicals.