Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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So what are the monkeys thinking? (Contributed by Jaimilee C.)


Looking back a couple of months ago, my ignorance then on the illegal pet trade that is presently occurring in Belize was clear. There are so many animals that are stripped from their niches every day and sold to people to keep as pets. Well, right now I am looking after four little monkeys (three endangered howler monkeys and a spider monkey) in the Wildtracks Nursery Unit at the Primate Rehabilitation Centre, with constant activity around me as they swing, climb and play together. While sitting in the outdoors enclosure I can’t help but stare at the newest baby monkey arrivals in the quarantine cage opposite. Watching how they just hang from a branch and stare back at me, their eyes lifeless and filled with despair. Here’s a short story of what (in my opinion) must be going through their minds…

"I know I wasn’t meant to be here; I remember the happy days when I had my mother with me, playing around and jumping from tree to tree. Then one day everything changed. We heard a sound and she began to run. She said we were escaping from something bad. No matter how high she climbed, an ugly creature with a hard pointy thing exclaimed “I see two.” Then a loud “bang” was heard…my mom let go…to the ground we went. Grabbing me by the tail the creatures kicked my mom and said, “This will clear our debts!” I shrieked as loud as I could, crying, “Mommy, mommy wake up! They've got me!” In a box they threw me with others just like me - merely babies experiencing such tragedy. Who are these things that hurt my mom and took me away? What do they want from me? Don’t they know I’m just a babe? I need my mom, milk, leaves and fruit to grow big and strong and lead a troop someday. On and on we went away from the home we knew, the ones we loved, and the trees we climbed. From then on it was all a blur. I was taken and exchanged to one, then to another and so on, for something known to them as ‘money’ but looked like leaves to me.

A couple of months after this – after being shouted at, after having my cage shaken to make me move, after being fed rice and chicken, and no milk, the creatures, men, lifted my cage once more, and on the road we were again - me and a second baby howler of the same age. It took a long time until we stopped. My cage was lifted once more and set on the ground. Here, one of those ‘men’ reached out to me as if intending I should go to him. Used to being picked up by the tail, it was the first thing that grabbed his arm, and he walked us into a larger space. I can even remember what he first told me: “Welcome to Wildtracks, little one! This will be your temporary home while we clear you through quarantine”, he continued on as I was placed in a larger cage with leaves and fruits like those my mom used to give me. I was still very rude because of my former experiences, I would bite whenever the man held me and ignore whenever he called me. I couldn't understand why these creatures were being good to me when all the others I had known only mistreated me.

After a few days, I noticed that there were more babies in the place and that the same creatures were being good to them too! So there I sat in one corner of the cage and watched for hours how the creatures played and cared for the others like mom used to do with me. The next day my mind was set to be more polite and let the creature treat me and talk to me, to eat leaves and fruits they offered - something that was not as natural as it was before.

Things changed - I’m starting to feel better now; my fur is softening and my bony chest is filling out! The babe that was stripped from its mothers dead body has finally begun to dream, this place provides me with a new hope. I know I’ll soon be out and playing with the rest and having someone caring for me as well, for they are good creatures that want to see me big strong and free!"

So the two howler babes, 'Teddy and Tilly', are on their road to recovery. Taking these innocent beings from their mothers and away from the home they knew is wrong! And it should not continue. Let us take a stand and protect Belize’s wildlife! Let us stop the illegal pet trade once and for all!

My utmost gratitude to Paul and Zoe Walker for taking me in and allowing me to be part of the Wildtracks team!


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-10-05 16:02:32   [Link to this article]

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