Wildtracks teenagers...contributed by Lauren M.
The last two months were the most amazing months in my life. I was given the opportunity to work with nine of the monkeys at Wildtracks during my entire time there. These nine included two older howlers named Jazz and Little P, six juvenile howlers; Ty, Elliot, Sam, Peanut, Pebbles, Polly, and of course the young spider monkey Izzy. What was so amazing about working exclusively with these monkeys was that I was able to really get to know them as individuals and bond with them. My time consisted of four hour-long feedings per day. I would bring Izzy down from her upstairs cage into the outdoor cage in between the feeds where the six howlers lived, to play with them (Wildtracks doesn't currently have any other spider monkeys of a similar age for her to integrate with). I was spending sometimes up to seven hours outside in the cage with them a day. There were so many ups and downs spending time out there with the monkeys and except for the first two weeks when I was shadowing the previous carers for the hand-over, I was generally in the cage with them alone. This sometimes proved to be a huge challenge. There were times when the monkeys would all be napping and I would be standing out in the cage getting bitten by mosquitoes for two hours at a time. However, when the babies, as I called them, were awake it was the most joyous times of my day! I had so much fun interacting with them - wrestling, being included in their play and providing a mobile feeding / sleeping platform, that the hard times of solitude and getting eaten by bugs were completely worth it! These monkeys became such a huge part of my life that I think I needed them just as much if not more than they needed me! They brought laughter, joy, occasionally fear, and lots of tears to my life!
Together the troop and I weathered many storms, often getting soaked through my clothes and their fur. Which wasn’t all that bad because that meant that Polly would climb inside my jacket and snuggle to stay warm! We conquered two army ant invasions without any casualties or injuries, except for Peanuts inability to stay off the ground, which led to a few bites. We battled the swarms of mosquitoes which was mostly one sided, with me swatting them away from the monkeys, but occasionally the babies would smoosh one or two that were on me. We tested each other’s authority finding out where we stood on the totem poll - mainly Elliot trying to tell me he was the boss and deserved the most milk at every feed, resulting in a few bites here and there. Through it all, we bonded, played, and (though this also may be one sided), enjoyed each other’s company. The monkeys taught me so much about myself and what I was capable of and it was they who pushed me to keep going during tough times. Whenever I had an especially tough day, I would take 15-20 minutes and go into Jazz and Little P’s cage. These two are very special monkeys; they would always include me in their play and were some of the most gentle monkeys I worked with. They provided me with such tender care that I was always rejuvenated and ready to face anything.
It was incredible for me to look back at the pictures I took at the beginning of my two months and see such a huge transformation. I was able to look at those pictures and see just how much the babies have grown. They looked much bigger and stronger then when I first came in. The first two weeks were actually spent giving the juvenile howlers and Izzy medication for giardia. As the days passed and the babies became healthy, thanks to the medication, their coats became softer and shinier, their demeanor changed, and their joy increased. It was all downhill from there.
During my two months at Wildtracks, some of the biggest changes I observed occurred in Izzy. By the end she was swinging around the outdoor cage so fast she was a blur. Her agility was incredible and her confidence grew daily. It is hard for me to imagine a veterinarian recommending that she be euthanized or that limbs be amputated when I see this perfectly capable monkey who is excelling in her physical abilities! Izzy is a great example of what amazing things this organization is doing, giving these animals a second chance in being free when somebody else may not have.
I am a completely different person after this experience and all in positive ways. These animals have stolen my heart and I know that I will be returning to Wildtracks in the future to help continue them on their path to release. I am so grateful for the opportunity Paul and Zoe gave to me. Please donate to Wildtracks if you can! Every little bit helps and in the case of Izzy and all the howlers, it can change a monkeys entire life!
Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-10-02 14:16:54 [Link to this article]
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