49 starving caged monkeys rescued from Johannesburg garden nursery (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

At least 49 dehydrated and malnourished monkeys have been rescued from being kept in horrible conditions at a garden nursery in South Africa. Some of the caged animals were so exhausted they looked like skeletons.

The monkeys were kept at the Little Falls Garden Center north of Johannesburg for the entertainment of the visitors, who eventually informed a primate rescue group of the poor state the monkeys were in.

The International Primate Rescue (IPR) organization got a court order to remove the primates along with any other maltreated animals. All in all, the organization personnel managed to save at least 49 primates, including spider, capuchin and squirrel monkeys.

At least 96 monkeys once lived in the center but almost half of them died, according to Sue Mousley, director of the primate rescue organization.

Still

“We got a court order to remove these monkeys, because they were being malnourished. The conditions in which they are living are just not acceptable,” Mousley told AP. “This is clear animal cruelty; no monkey should have to live like this.”

She added that most of the animals were “very underweight.”

Some of them looked so malnourished and miserable that their heads looked disproportionally bigger for their bodies. Others resembled skeletons and their bones were seen from the fur. Several animals were suffering from rickets, a condition which results in poorly formed bones.

Not only monkeys at the center were lucky to have been saved by the volunteers. Three tortoises were also rescued from the center.

The primates will be recovering at an IPR monkey sanctuary north of the city of Pretoria, South Africa's capital, in the coming weeks.