Having begun my journey into the world of primates in the Mexican rainforests and having been lucky enough to participate in field work with many established primatologists, I am finally realizing my place is with those extracted from the wild and destined to live a life in captivity. After a troublesome summer of 2013 fighting off infections and struggling with a rheumatic condition whilst assisting field primatologists in tough terrain, I think I can give more to monkeys in places like Ecoparque el Fenix, and although I love field work I am finding this project extremely rewarding.
Although the project has taken a different direction after finding we needed a staggering £6, 000 to reconstruct the derelict enclosure, I think progress here has flourished.
The English team are doing well, and it brings me much joy to be living and working alongside such dedicated people. Robyn is now confident with data collection and monkey identification; we sit together in the evenings discussing the behavioural progress of each individual monkey within the enrichment program and enjoy sharing stories of our daily observations. Dave has managed to win the hearts of everyone here (minus Pequitas the dominant male monkey, but boys will be boys), and after enduring staggering heat and apocalyptic monsoons to construct enrichments, shelters, and enclosures for the monkeys here, he has been rewarded by the naming of a new baby boy ‘Dave’….probably the only monkey named Dave in South America!
The Mexican team are also doing brilliantly, all assisting in every aspect of the project at each phase. It has been a really rewarding experience teaching the keepers about enrichments, social structures, fission-fusion dynamics, and captive management, and even more exciting watching them plan and implement networks of ropes for our large enclosure. No longer will there be bored monkeys sitting on the floor twiddling their thumbs (if they had any).
As for the monkeys, well I hope the following photos will do justice as to the success of the project so far, and I expect my data will do just the same (fingers and tails crossed!) In addition to the drudgery of checking in with the online world (I haven’t missed the junk mail and bills!), I was wonderfully overwhelmed today to find our online donations are still rising whilst we are busy working here on a limited budget. I hope you can see what your kindness is achieving from these photos, I know I say this a lot but we couldn’t do any of these things without your support, so thank you!
DURING AND AFTER THE TRANSFORMATION: