They felt pity for monkeys, then frequently found in pet stores, and bought several. Word got out and individuals, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and zoos asked them to take more. They became a chapter of the National Simian Society. Ursula’s favorites were woolly monkeys from Brazil and capuchins. They renovated the garage with large cages, but a few lived in their house in St James, Long Island.
The monkeys could cause chaos by opening jars, and hanging jewelry and even car keys in the trees. Each monkey had a name that s/he responded to. In the wild woolly monkeys live 40 years or so, but in the northern climate only 20. The Kwartas and their monkeys were featured in an article in the New York Times in November 1978.
Casimir, who had become a sales representative with an electronics company subsidized the sanctuary which barely broke even. Ursula worked around the clock looking after the monkeys.
Casimir was trans, and Ursula gave full support. They ran a trans social group from 1980-1988 that was listed in TVTS Tapestry and elsewhere. Casimir, as Kay, was on hormones prescribed by Dr David Wesser.
In 1982, budding journalist James Boylan (the future Jennifer Boylan) had become friends with a trans woman photographer she refers to as ‘Casey’ - although she did not then realize that Casey was trans. They visited the Kwartas for an article for American Bystander, and Casey realized that Kwarta was trans, especially when she discovered the hormones in the bathroom.
In 1989, Casimir retired and they desired somewhere warmer. They eventually found a place in South Carolina with privacy and room for lots of animals. In addition to the monkeys, they had dogs, horses, chickens and a parrot.
Casimir died in 1999 at age 71 from a brain tumor. Ursula died in 2008.
Francis X Clines. “Couple Do Everything Humanly Possible to Provide for
Monkeys”. New York Times, Nov 13, 1978. www.nytimes.com/1978/11/13/archives/couple-do-everything-humanly-possible-to-provide-for-monkeys-humans.html.
Jennifer Finney Boylan. She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders.
Broadway Books, 2004: 64-6.
Sandi Chaney. “A Winding Road: Manning’s Kwarta has life story full of
twists, turns”. Sumter Item, Dec 30, 2003. Online
Reprinted as “Ursula Kwarta”. Find a Grave, Jul 30, 2011. www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=74196539.
- ‘Casey’. Email to Zagria, July 2016.
The Kwartas are not listed among the notable residents of St James in Wikipedia.
A note re the anecdote in Jennifer Boylan’s autobiography. She renames the Kwarta’s as D’Angelo, and relocates them to Philadelphia. She also claims to have read Kay and claims it was she who spotted the hormones in the bathroom cabinet.