BUSINESS continued as usual at Monkey World while shocked staff paid tribute to its founder Jim Cronin.

Subdued staff went about their work caring for the animals as usual yesterday while visitors braved the cold to admire the animals.

Senior keeper Mike Colbourne said that he thought the shock of Mr Cronin's death had not sunk in yet.

He described the reaction of the staff to the sad news as "absolutely shocked and gutted".

Mr Colbourne, who has been working at Monkey World for 10 years, said: "Jim Cronin was Monkey World.

"But Monkey World will continue because we still have animals to look after. It is what he would have wanted."

He paid tribute to Mr Cronin's dedication and determination to save animals.

He said: "I have the greatest admiration for him. No one of a lesser character could have achieved what he has done."

Mr Colbourne remembered how Mr Cronin had a very hands-on approach to managing Monkey World and how he knew every animal individually.

He added: "If an animal was sick and should not be on display, Jim would close that section of the park even on a bank holiday because the animals always came first. This is their retirement home."

He said that Mr Cronin and his wife Alison would investigate all the reports of animal cruelty that came flooding into the offices at Monkey World.

Recently they were horrified by seeing orang-utans boxing in Thailand and were campaigning to rescue them.

Monkey World spokesman Jez Hermer said: "Jim was a larger than life character. He was full of energy and passion.

"If he had not been so full of energy he would not have been able to achieve the amazing things he has achieved."

He said Monkey World would stand as a lasting tribute to Mr Cronin and that when his wife Alison returned from America she would consider some sort of a memorial.

He said: "There will be a huge hole in Alison's life but she will be able to carry on their work."

Mr Hermer was confident that Monkey World would continue without Mr Cronin.

Staff at Monkey World have set up a fund as a legacy to Mr Cronin.

* Full details of the fund and how to contribute are online at