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Wanderings at Fireburn...Lucy (Houston Zoo)


Hi! My name is Lucy Dee Anderson and I work for the Houston Zoo as a primate zookeeper. Every year in October our department has an event called 'Howlerween' to raise funding for Wildtracks as wells as to raise awareness for the rehabilitating and release work they do. To strengthen and grow this relationship I came to Belize to help with their upcoming release if two new troupes of howler monkeys they have rehabilitated.

To prepare for this, myself and a few others from Wildtracks travelled by truck, boat, tractor and foot to the Fireburn Reserve to set up release cages. If all goes according to plan, the monkeys will be in these cages for two nights and then be released into the wild. They will be provisioned with food and water twice a day for one month and then again whenever they come to the cages during the next month and a half. At this point, hopefully they will will be feeding on their own.

We spent two days at Fireburn and on the first day on the way to the Fieldbase, a couple of us smelled a monkey scent. This is quite distinguishable for howler monkeys and one of the ways to find them. That, and their howling! Once we got settled in to the field base, we started to go down the path and discovered five howler monkeys up in the trees! We were lucky to have Leo with us, a researcher who had been involved with the release last year and who tracked them for several months. He identified two males; Dudley and Igor, and three females; Minnie, Mo and Eden. I had met Dudley and Eden the first time I had come to Belize three years ago so it was extremely exciting to see them grown and living as wild monkeys. Rehabilitation and release of animals is a very intensive and difficult task and to see the fruition of all of Wildtracks' work is amazing.

On our second day at Fireburn we awoke to monkeys feeding in trees high above the Fieldbase. Of the ones we could see we identified Igor, Minnie and Mo. Later in the day as we were putting the release cages together we heard howling. When we tracked down the monkey, we found it to be Clyde, another released monkey I had previously met. He is a beautiful animal and howling just like our howlers at the Houston Zoo do. All in all it was a great two days. Fireburn is an impressive place with thick jungle and many ideal food trees for the Howler Monkeys.

I'm excited to watch as the next troupes are released. Fingers crossed for the same success as in previous years!


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-06-15 10:13:01   [Link to this article]

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