Nearly 50 starving, dehydrated monkeys were rescued from cages at a garden nursery north of Johannesburg on Saturday.

Spider, capuchin and squirrel monkeys were among the 49 primates taken away by the International Primate Rescue organization.

The monkeys had been kept in cages for the entertainment of people coming to buy plants at a garden nursery. Visitors notified the primate rescue group of the poor conditions.

Some of animals were so malnourished that their heads were disproportionally large for their bodies and their bones were protruding from their fur. Many were suffering from rickets.

Sue Mousley, director of the primate rescue organization told The Associated Press that the garden center once had 96 monkeys but many had died.