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Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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My time at Wildtracks - Iswari's blog

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Hi, I’m Iswari and I just finished volunteering at Wildtracks for a month. I came in not knowing what to expect out of this experience. However, as I love primates and had never seen a manatee before, I knew that I would have a great time here regardless of what task I would be assigned to. I helped out with a variety of tasks throughout my time at Wildtracks, but by the end of my first week, I fell in love with the spider monkeys.

I was the primary caregiver of Mattie, Duma, Pancho, Pippa, and Teresa. When I was first introduced to them, Pancho immediately came to me and made kissy faces. He opened up his arms and pushed his body onto the enclosure asking for me to rub his chest, a spider monkey greeting. As we try to have minimal contact with the monkeys to limit their human dependancy upon release, I had to decline. When I did, he still continued to chuckle and follow me as I walked. While I know that Pancho, as a male spider monkey, can be very unpredictable sometimes, I was lucky to find he was always really sweet under my care. In fact, he was quite a lady’s man, flirting with any female volunteer that came with me.

Pippa is a shy girl. She covered her face with her hands whenever I was around and shyly looked down. On the other hand, Teresa always talked to me and sometimes reached out of the enclosure to try and hug my neck as I was changing browse or food bowls. Mattie and Duma have interesting interactions. The younger Duma is always full of energy and loves to play. She is the cheekiest monkey that I have worked with and seeing her in the morning always made my day. While Mattie is shy around humans, Duma loves to jump around and even make back flips when you talk to her. She loved grabbing the dustpan when I raked around the enclosure and shaking her head, inviting me to play.

While I spent most of my time working with the spider monkeys, I also helped out with the manatees. Spending time with Khaleesi was probably the highlight of my time at Wildtracks. I almost drowned when I was 11 and have been struggling with aquaphobia ever since. Hence, I could not swim with Khaleesi in the lagoon like the other volunteers. Towards the end of my stay, I decided to at least try walking around the lagoon while Khaleesi swam. Although the lagoon is shallow, it was really hard for me to stand in the open water. However, Khaleesi hugged my legs with her tiny flippers and nudged me to move forward whenever I stood still. Having Khaleesi swimming around and coming to find me every few minutes was really therapeutic and I could not have asked for a better water experience.

Since I arrived at Wildtracks just a few days before Christmas, we were short of volunteers and had a lot of work to do with limited manpower. However, it was a rewarding experience, reinforced with everyone’s amazing teamwork. As I proceed with my last semester of college, I wish to return to Wildtracks again, hopefully for a longer term.

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Published by: Zoe Walker at 2014-02-08 07:41:37   [Link to this article]


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