After spending 25 years in a tiny, dark cage stuck between two buildings in Thailand, Joe the Monkey has finally been rescued.

Joe — a macaque — was captured in the wild in 1991 and ever since then has been trapped in a damp, dark hellhole among rats, feces and garbage. Suffering severe atrophy from the confinement, Joe’s muscles became¬†so weak that he could barely stand up. The captive monkey appeared to have given up on life, peering mournfully at passersby through the rusted wire that confined him.

Finally, one of those passersby decided to help free Joe from his misery, and contacted¬†Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, who set out to track him down even though little detail had been provided about the monkey’s location. In the video below, you can watch the bittersweet rescue.

WFFT Founder Edwin Wiek posted on Facebook: “I have seen a lot of animal suffering in the last 17 years, but I would say that the condition the monkey was kept in was probably in the ‘Top 10’ of most horrible cases.”

Now at the WFFT sanctuary, Joe is slowly recovering from his decades of neglect, and starting to show some signs of enjoyment with life. He has grown stronger, and will hopefully soon be able to climb and perform other natural acts he has been deprived of for so long.

Joe the rescued macaque is growing stronger

Joe’s owner was thrilled to have the monkey taken off of his hands — he had reportedly already tried to give Joe to the Bangkok zoo, but was unable to pay the fee they requested to take him in. A sanctuary is far better than a zoo for Joe, as zoos themselves keep the animals in cruel confinement and fail to meet the animals’ basic needs.

Joe’s heartbreaking story is just one of many in the cruel wildlife tracking trade. Wild animals like him need our protection to spare them from being kidnapped from their habitat and sold off to humans who have no idea how to properly care for them. Joe never deserved to be a prisoner.