Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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Nursery Monkeys (Jenny talks about the 3P's, Sam and Elliot)


Hi! I’m Jenny from London and I am about to hit the big 3-0 at the end of the month. Last month I started a six month sabbatical from my job as a Project Manager for a medical devices company and in this period I plan to volunteer in India and Kenya as well as in Belize at Wildtracks. I’ve been here for about 3 weeks now and I’m having a wonderful time!

For the past couple of weeks I have been working with the baby monkeys and it’s been a real pleasure! We have eight babies who are currently being cared for by Wildtracks and I would like to introduce you to the four baby Yucatan Black Howler Monkeys. Sam is the biggest and was confiscated in a bad state - he had scabies and had lost most of the fur on his legs, body and head. He was malnourished as he had mainly been on a diet of bananas, and wasn’t getting the milk he needed, as he was so young. Peanut was found in a very bad way and when he came to Wildtracks he needed special care. He had a gut infection and needed to be force fed for a couple of weeks to keep him alive. He is the most vocal complainer of the group, and grumbles about anything. Polly is our fluffy girl who was confiscated and brought to Wildtracks in good condition. She likes to cling to the front of volunteers’ t-shirts – a habit which will need to be broken as she grows up. Pebbles is the smallest baby howler and was surrendered in good condition. She likes to lie on the volunteers’ shoulders with her tail wrapped around their necks. Being similar ages, these young monkeys (the “three P’s and Sam”) all live together, each being integrated into the group after arrival and quarantine. We are currently trying to integrate these four monkeys with Elliot, who is slightly older. It’s fantastic to see the progress that they have made in the past couple of weeks during the supervised play periods.

Elliot still has a tendency to be a little rough when he’s playing but Peanut and Sam seem to be handling it pretty well. Peanut is still almost constantly complaining, however, he doesn’t seem too upset, as he keeps moving towards Elliot rather than away from him. Sam has been provoking Elliot over the past couple of days demonstrating his increasing confidence, and can hold his own in a play wrestle. Polly seems to have lots of energy and confidence at the start of the play session, and is certainly the fastest climber out of the small babies, but once she gets tired she clings to my hip and won’t let go until it’s milk time. She is very good at shouting at Elliot and gave him a good telling off recently to the point that Zoe could hear her in the office next door!
Pebbles is very low in confidence when Elliot is out. She will happily play with the other three when Elliot is in his cage, however, when Elliot is out she will either sit on my shoulder or play within jumping distance of me if she’s feeling brave. I spend half of the play session putting her back into play once she’s sought refuge on me! Last week she was curled up relaxing on my knee when Elliot stealthily approached her and started to groom her. She was enjoying it (she did have about half a papaya stuck in her fur!) until she realised that it was Elliot. She jumped up, let out a deafening scream and hopped up onto my shoulder with her tail wrapped so tight around my neck I feared that I might asphyxiate!

If I am the only person in the room, Pebbles and Polly will happily sit on my shoulder and on my hip respectively. However, if a better human comes along (i.e. anyone!) then they will trade me in! There is certainly a hierarchy from the monkey point of view, with Zoe, Paul and Leoma all above lowly me which, I hope, is only related to the relatively short amount of time I have been at Wildtracks! I try not to take it personally!


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-03-12 10:07:46   [Link to this article]

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