MONKEY World, the Wool primate rescue centre, has been honoured for its "selfless liberating and caring for our animal friends".

The unique Shining World Compassionate Award, from the Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association, was presented to Monkey World director Dr Alison Cronin on Thursday.

A cheque for $5,000 accompanied the plaque, which was presented by association representative Ruth Stannard.

Dr Cronin said: "It is just a fantastic award, one that recognises acts of kindness towards the animal kingdom, which at Monkey World we feel is really important.

"I am honoured and pleased, especially as this award is given for acts of kindness, which is something we need more of in the world."

Earlier this year Monkey World freed 88 capuchin monkeys from a medical lab in Santiago, Chile.

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

The association, which is a non-profit-making organisation, contacted Monkey World in February.

A Supreme Master Ching Hai spokesman said they were "privileged to present the award to Monkey World" for their "benevolent, courageous and noble leadership and peace-loving efforts to improve our world".

"This award is to show gratitude and to magnify a shining example of goodness for others to follow, and it is absolutely unconditional."

Previous winners of Shining World Awards include the Animals Asia Foundation and Shana, a dog who rescued her owners during an ice storm in the USA.