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Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

Wildtracks blog


Elliot...a Wildtracks favourite gets into trouble, a blog from Katharine

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Hi!, My name is Katharine and I am a Canadian volunteer who has been at Wildtracks for 3 months. While at Wildtracks, I worked with the teens - a group of 5 young howler monkeys named Elliot, Sam, Pebbles, Peanut, and Polly – the Teens. I also worked with 2 pre-release howlers, Paz and Kofi, who are now happily living in Fireburn as wild monkeys!

During my time at Wildtracks, I was fortunate enough to develop a very close relationship with all of the monkeys that I worked with - however Elliot, a young howler monkey, holds a special place in my heart. I first knew Elliot when I was in charge of feeding him when he was living in the pre-pre-release enclosure, but it was an unfortunate accident that solidified our bond. On July 1st, 2014, Jamie and I were working with the 5 Teens. All of a sudden, Elliot was on the top of the cage and thrashing around. Our first thought was that he was having a seizure. I ran to get Paul and by the time we got back, Jamie had identified the cause, and was trying to free Elliot’s foot from the top of the cage, where he had got it stuck. Usually, when a monkey gets stuck, it is easy to free them. However, with Elliot’s panic, the cage had to be cut to free him.

Everyone assumed he had dislocated his ankle. However, when we arrived at the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, x-rays confirmed that he had broken both the fibula and tibia, as well as shearing off the growth plate in his ankle. He then had to have surgery to pin and immobilise the bones in his ankle. He got a bright blue cast to bring home!

His first couple of weeks back at Wildtracks were difficult; he did not understanding why he was confined to a small cage in the nursery and why his friends (Peanut, Polly, Pebbles, and Sam) were not with him, and he became sad and lonely. As a result, I would sit and play with him for several hours a day to provide him the social interaction that he needed. During the first few days, he became very attached to his carers, Jamie and I. He would refuse to eat his fruit, milk, and browse unless I put it in the palm of my hand or held the bowl up to him.

Rather than his normal rambunctious and playful self, he began wanting to sit on my lap (and getting upset when I would try and leave) and taking naps on my shoulder. As he grew accustomed to his new room and how to climb with his cast, he came out of his shell and was quickly reverting back to his funny and mischievous self. Now, he is loving all of the attention he is getting, enrichment, and play time. He became so used to all of his treats, that he is extremely annoyed when we don’t bring him grapes, raisins, extra milk, or peanuts. He has definitely become a little bit of a princess!

While seeing Elliot hurt was extremely difficult, it was an incredible opportunity to see him grow and come to terms with his new (temporary) home in the nursery. At first, he started off by being very clingy and emotional - never wanting to stray away from my lap. I was able to see his transformation from a shy and sad little guy who didn’t quite understand what was going on, to a confident and happy young monkey once again, who is growing more and more confidant by the day.

My time at Wildtracks has gone by so quickly and now that I am home, I can safely say it was the best experience I could have ever imagined. Having the chance to see these amazing animals on the road to release and return to the wild has been unforgettable.

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Published by: Zoe Walker at 2014-08-20 10:18:05   [Link to this article]


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