Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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Working with Little Bean (Lydia)


Little Bean is a five month old Yucatan black howler monkey, found on a trail – a small, black bundle covered in ants, at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, one of Belize’s forest-filled protected areas. This is the location of the first re-introductions in Belize, with several troops being translocated from the Belize River Valley. Estimated to be around one week old, she is thought to have been a victim of troop rivalry/infanticide Little Bean was extremely lucky to have been found and rushed to Wildtracks. On arrival she weighed just 239g – a very tiny baby. I came to work with her when she reached one month, and still very tiny.

Little Bean has come on leaps and bounds since her arrival, and I have had the privilege to witness her incredible recovery and development. On the day I started working with her, she could barely support herself or stay awake for much time at all. I would walk her around for around twenty minutes after each feed - just about all she could handle without falling asleep. As she has grown up I have gone from spending these short bursts of time with her to spending the entire day together. She has steadily grown stronger, braver and more adventurous. Once a monkey too afraid to leave my arms, she has progressed from moving a few meters away, to running and jumping around the playroom without a care in the world.

Once an only child, three other baby howlers and one baby spider monkey of roughly the same age have come along since Little Bean’s arrival. One of the most amazing things to see has been her integration with these other babies. For a long time she was extremely wary of them, and although they clearly wanted to play with her, she was terrified. We had many weeks where she avoided the other monkeys to the best of her efforts, and I started to worry that she’d never be happy with them. And then one day she started to play! Although very gingerly at first, she has grown in confidence fast and now finds herself constantly pestering the others to play. It turns out that Little Bean is an extremely friendly and playful monkey and is now really happily settled into her new troop, which is brilliant to see.

After having spent roughly five months with Little Bean, we have formed a very special bond. She is an extremely special little monkey with the sweetest nature, and it has been a privilege getting to work so closely with her. It will be very difficult saying goodbye to her, but she has made so much progress that I have nothing but high hopes for her future. Either way, I’ll have to return to Wildtracks soon to see how she’s doing!


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-09-09 12:03:48   [Link to this article]

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