The shelter of the howler monkey in Medellin – KienyKe

When Beatriz came to the who for three years will be your home, if all goes well, they barely fit in the palm of a human hand, and yet he had stuck his umbilical cord; and Sun, which today is four months, though it was a little bigger, had a fracture that required surgery to avoid problems of mobility in the future.

Beatriz and Sun are just two of the 25 red howler monkeys which are found in andl Zoo Santa Fein Medellin, to start his long journey of recovery after being victims of trafficking of wildlife.

Although a few cases are more tragic than others, the programme of conservation, rehabilitation, release and monitoring of this species, which was created in 1999 in this place, is a refuge and a hope of life for the animals that are caught by hunters and traffickers in the hands of their parents and of their natural habitat. In addition, it is the only one in the country.

The year, the institution may receive between 25 and 30 animals on average, and to date, has released more of 200.

A fact is encouraging if one takes into account that this species, especially in its infancy, generates a lot of empathy with humans and that is why many do not evaluate the consequences of having one as a pet.

Those black eyes deep and those little hands, that look like those of a baby, break the hearts of the people in the middle of a road the buy out of pity, not realizing that as well to feed the pockets of those who do not hesitate to kill the parents to deprive their offspring.

When they arrive at the zoo, the howler monkeys have a lot of problems. And it’s not just physical, also emotional.

The veterinarian Jonathan Alvarez, who is part of this recovery initiative, told the details all the way through these animals to return to the freedom and to develop his life as a sow should be: in small herds of between five and 15 members, and trepados eating leaves high in the trees of any forest in the country, because their location is wide: from the Atlantic coast and Hit up the Amazon and the Orinoco.

Foto: Zoológico Santa Fe

Photo: Zoo Santa Fe

A temporary home

Although I put names and encariñan, everyone working at the zoo in Medellin do their best for the red howler monkeys completed the program with success and can return to their true home as soon as possible. But the process is delayed. It takes between two and three years.

It all depends on the conditions in the arrival of the primate and of his age. Unfortunately, most adults, by the prolonged contact with the human, a few sometimes manage to adapt and resume their natural habits.

And some more, sadly, not able to recover from the violence. “Come with many problems, the trauma of being snatched from their parents taking away their will to live, not eat, in addition to suffering beatings, broken bones, lost fingers, come peeled, because the tie and put them in chains, they enter in very bad conditions,” he told Alvarez.

It is also frequent to come up with digestive problems, because people give them any food, and the monkeys are completely dependent when they are small.

“Give them soda, gummy bears, even bandeja paisa. As they feed only on the leaves and have a digestive system that ferments, when they eat other things spicy or not part of their diet they get sick: diarrhea and swollen abdomen,” explained the vet.

After overcoming the first hurdles of adaptation, the next step is to group them together in small herds of up to 10 members, so that they become a family.

“For the group at the time of release did not break down it is important that they grow together as if they were brothers”Jonathan Alvarez

Normally these herds are made up of one male and one female dominant, and there are more females because, the expert pointed out, “when males reach adulthood in the groups wild challenge to the dominant”.

What continues is the process of training. In that moment, it avoids any human contact with the animal and begins to teach you to recognize the diet, the safe zone of life (in the highlands) and to identify the dangers of the wildlife.

To do this, the caregivers of the howler monkeys, taking advantage of the resources that are there in the zoo.

“We use individuals in the park: ocelots and boa constrictors, to teach them the dangers of being on the floor. In addition, we use the dung of other animals for them to identify them as potential enemies”, said Alvarez.

All this, obviously, is done in controlled spaces where no animal gets hurt.

Even the particular sound of the howler monkey is also used to learn how to identify and mark their territory.

For something they were named this way. According to the vet, to this primate will say the monkey diplomat since they hardly confronted by others in fights, but prefers to use his howl to communicate. It has fairly broad in scope, is estimated to be a kilometer.

Foto: Zoológico Santa Fe

Photo: Zoo Santa Fe

Then, when they are ready and pass the evaluation of the environmental authority, are released. The last release that made it to the zoo Santa Fe was in 2015 in the southwest antioquia. On that occasion, were returned to their habitat in two groups, one of eight and another of nine monkeys.

But since 2009, that there was a registration more efficient, we have made 13 releases, 172 monkeys, in the municipalities of La Pintada, Armenia Butter, Eliconia, and Puerto Triunfo, in the Magdalena Medio.

Year after year, after every release, you follow them up to the herds, to watch your acomplamiento to the natural environment.

In some of these visits, the biologists have been able to observe females with new offspring, and males that have left their families out of captivity to form their own group with other monkeys.

The challenge now is to refine the program. “We want to start using telemetry collar radio or satellite, to be provided with much more detailed information that we cannot obtain with the annual visits,” said Alvarez.

Call to consciousness

Although the howler monkey is not a species at risk of extinction or in a vulnerable state, it is one of the most commercialized in the country by traffickers of fauna.

That is why this conservation program, as others which you are claiming the Zoo Santa Fe in order to protect the condor of the Andes, the titi grey, salvin peak blue and macaw green lemon, are so important.

“We are adding a granite of sand to the care and protection of the environment and the ecosystem, because these animals are with biological functions in their territories. One of them is to scatter seeds for forests to regenerate and the trees to reproduce”, said the expert.

So the call to the people, to not continue to reach out howler monkeys from all parts of the country: Cundinamarca, of the Coast, Santanderes and the Valley, is to not buy out of pity, nor have these animals for pets.

“The zoos we have the great work of education. When people come to this space, we invite you to get to know the animals, but you should not go with the wrong idea of wanting to have them in their homes. They are here because at some point, were extracted from their habitat, and for some conditions may not be released”Jonathan Alvarez

Alvarez reiterated: “The most important in the issue of wildlife trafficking is the demand, because it is what most affects the biodiversity. The recommendation is not to buy them even though generating much though, because paying for them gives the wrong message to the dealer: it is a profitable business”.

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