Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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What kind of person are you - manatee or monkey?


If someone was to tell me five years ago that, at age 18, I would be spending three months in the Belize jungle rehabilitating spider monkeys, I would have simply laughed and maybe said a quick, ‘I wish’. Now that I am here- I could not imagine being anywhere else in the world. I have had a passion and love for the health and welfare of animals since a young age. I have always dreamt of one day being a part of a rehabilitation center. For the most part, I thought it was a pretty far-fetched idea to travel to a foreign country to work for one. I assumed I was to do what all recent high school graduates do - jump straight into college. But, thanks to Laura, a past volunteer who now lives and works in Sarteneja, I found Wildtracks. Wildtracks has been a home to me for almost three months and there has never been day when I have regretted my decision to join the volunteer team.

Coming to Wildtracks I kept an open mind but I really wanted to work specifically with the manatees. I started immediately working with them and loved every minute I was able to spend on the ‘Mana-team’. Alysha (Primate Programme Manager) kindly asked me one day if I would be willing to meet some of the monkeys to potentially work with them. I said yes, obviously (but really, who says no to Alysha?), and that day met Casanova and Kamal, two baby spider monkeys. I can honestly say I have never worked harder for anyone or anything’s attention than I did for Cas. Once he finally accepted me, it was one of the greatest days and fondest memories I have here. Turns out, I am totally a monkey person - specifically a spider monkey person. I now currently work with Ellie, the most recent young spider monkey brought into Wildtracks who, because of her young age requires intensive hands-on care, along with Cas and Kam. They each have such unique and incredible personalities. I am thankful I have had the opportunity to work with not only the manatees, but also the three most incredible spider monkeys.

Being part of the Wildtracks Team has taught me many things, both animal and non-animal related. I now have the skills to properly get monkey poop out of clothes with limited resources, take an excellent fecal sample, and make impeccable spider monkey noises. I can also sleep through anything - from dogs barking, to the roar of the howlers. Thank you, Wildtracks! Among these great life skills I have acquired, I have had the opportunity to learn about conservation. It is beyond fascinating to listen to Paul and Zoe and hear the stories of the work they have been and continue to do. I have absolutely loved that aspect of being at Wildtracks. The learning experiences you encounter here are endless.

The idea of leaving here, which one day will sadly come, is a hard thought to bear. I cannot imagine my mornings starting without a ‘gooooood morning’ from Paul followed by a huge monkey hug by my little crazy monkey Ellie. My time here has been well worth all of the monkey poop down my back and every trip up and down the stairs to the nursery.


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2016-11-11 15:09:05   [Link to this article]

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