Howler monkey babies Venecia (L), and Marisol (R).
It doesn't get any cuter than these two little monitos (mono = monkey, and ito = little in Spanish).
Venicia, who is older, refuses goat milk or soy formula and feeds herself fruit and lettuce. She sleeps through the night in a cage in the bedroom.
Marisol drinks soy formula and refuses solid food. She cries in a cage, so we wear her day and night...I sleep in a fleece vest so she can snuggle inside it. At 2:00 A.M. she wakes me with her purring (it sounds like a tiny machine gun) and first sucks - then nibbles - on my neck until I get up and feed her.
Babies are required to be off-the-chart cute when they're so high maintenance...
Feeding Marisol with a 1 cc syringe.
Paul and I both changed our attire following Marisol's recent arrival.
Besides going to bed in a fleece vest now, I wear hospital scrubs (purchased for my vet tech externship) during the day... neither attire being particularly sexy. But at 442 grams (exactly 1 pound), Marisol produces a surprising amount of pee and - as darling as she herself is - her poo does stink.
Paul has started wearing one of my old purses so he still has his hands free when holding Marisol.
Paul carrying Marisol in a cloth purse.
If there isn't enough cuteness in these photos, the beginning of the second video (Part Two) is laugh-out-loud funny (but you have to watch closely) when Venecia leaps to the empty chair beside me. The problem is that although the chairs look like wood, they're slippery plastic. She accidentally does a pommel horse vault...and two little black feet shoot up in the air.
Alexa and Marisol with the howler baby, now also named Marisol.
I now know there are two towns in Costa Rica named Puerto Viejo. The one most people are familiar with is Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, which is located about 125 miles east of San Jose and 35 miles south of Limon, putting it at the extreme southern end of Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. That's the city I tried to program into my Gringa neighbor's GPS - fortunately without success. Alexa, my Tica neighbor and co-pilot, suggested we enter the name of the hotel where we were to meet the rescuer when we arrived, and (again fortunately) it was listed under accommodations.
So off we drove, heading east from San Ramon on the Transamerican Highway, or Highway 1. According to the GPS our anticipated arrival time was 8:35 AM, which was impossible, but I assumed the machine was wrong (in spite of the fact that I'm horribly GPS-impaired). Alexa and I left at 6:00 AM with hopes of reaching Puerto Viejo in five hours, picking up the orphaned howler monkey, eating lunch, and getting home before dark at 6:00 PM...in spite of the probability of torrential rainy-season afternoon downpours. Green = San Ramon, Purple = Destination, Red = Puerto Viejo
Forty-five minutes into our trip (with an interesting bonus: Costa Rican law requires semi-trucks to pull over and wait out the commute between the hours of 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM) the GPS told me to exit off Highway 1. A dim cartoon lightbulb went on above my head and, with growing suspicion, I followed the GPS directions...I had expected to continue west for at least two more hours. Then I pulled over to check a folding map. We were (correctly) going to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, "a small pueblo located in the province of Heredia known for bird watching, wildlife observation and adventure" which is several driving hours closer than Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
(This type of thing happens when I have telephone conversations in Spanish.)
We arrived at the "posada" or inn, and met the owner, a Tico wildlife guide who had lived in British Columbia and spoke perfect English (not the person I had originally spoken with on the phone). We drove a short distance to where Marisol, a campesina Tica woman, lived.
In addition to transferring the precious orphaned howler monkey to us, Marisol loaded the back of the Honda CRV with local fruit...mangos, pipas, and guabas. (Most North Americans haven't seen either pipas or guabas, which aren't imported, so a translation won't be meaningful - Google for photos if you're interested.)
To be continued...
Venecia on a potted "tiger paw" plant on the deck.
I used to cringe when our spider monkey, Lolita, climbed on the deck plants because they didn't hold her weight. But even though Venecia is gaining consistently, and has gone from 694 grams to 736 grams in the 11 days we've had her, she's tiny compared to Lolita at the same age. The deck plants make a great playground!
Venecia likes to hitch rides on us during the day, and we make it a point to walk around outside with her in the morning...howlers needs sunlight to digest their food. But she's been sleeping through the night since she arrived, and so far has been a very easy keeper.
Baby primate communication without speech.
More specifically, does Lolita feel anything akin to sibling rivalry? Not according to her behavior with the week-old howler we had briefly in January, or the baby howler we have now. Lolita is extremely loving with the babies, hugging and appearing to kiss them. She was equally gentle with our eighteen month old grandson when he visited, and readily accepted him as a new addition to the family. (An only child at the time, Connor handed Lolita his pacifier when she opened her mouth and begged for it.)
Baby primates - of several different species - seem to innately like and welcome each other. [Parental supervision advised.]
Lolita begs from Connor in Nov 2012
Lolita kisses Hershey in Jan 2013
Lolita hugs Venecia in May 2013
But Mom, I don't NEED a bath...
Every rehabilitation center has a cemetery. Some deaths are inevitable. Others deaths are the result of human error...a rehabilitator or veterinarian may not have sufficient experience with one of the many species they encounter. All deaths are grieved. Venecia with Martha.
We lost a beautiful, fully fledged owl that came to us with severe metabolic bone disease after being kept on an inappropriate diet by whomever found her. She couldn't stand. Her death was merciful, and if I had it to do over again I would have had her euthanized humanely upon admission. As it was we both gave it our best, and both suffered unnecessarily.
I also lost a newborn howler monkey who came to us so young her umbilical cord was still attached. She died a week later after several difficult days. It's possible that there was nothing I could have done differently, but I believe a more experienced rehabilitator might have saved her.
Enter Venecia, an orphaned howler monkey named after the town in Costa Rica she's from. She has a scar over one eye and scabs across an upper arm, and I was told she was found on the road. (People aren't always honest, though. Adults are sometimes hunted for bush meat, or killed to capture babies for the illegal pet trade, and I don't know if the mother was found at the scene. Not that it matters now.)
I brought Venecia home yesterday and considered waiting a week or two to post...in case she died. But her life has value, however long it lasts. Here's hoping it's a healthy, wild life, and I can share her release and motherhood stories.
(Note: It's difficult to determine the sex of young howler monkeys with certainty. Should Venecia develop "huevos," we'll call her Venecio.)
YIKES. Is it just a bad bag? Or do two wild parrots know something about processed food that I've never really believed?
They ate all of the fresh fruit and frozen vegetables, and NONE of the (expensive) processed mix.
Definitely food for thought...
Two dishes fed simultaneously.
Same dishes twenty-four hours later.
Even more extreme the next day when I fed an hour late.
I'm going to contact the company to see if the corn is GMO.
Please check out the recently updated website page, http://www.spidermonkeyrehab.com/visit-our-center.htmlThis "virtual" tour of our wildlife rehabilitation center is for readers who won't have a chance visit us in Costa Rica, and a place to say Thank You to people who have made donations!
At the very top of the 14 foot aviary.
Q: How high is "high enough" for a parrot?
A: The sky.
Our aviary is 6+ feet long by 3+ feet wide by 14+ feet high. (The builders in Costa Rica use meters rather than feet). But the length and width don't seem to matter much to the parrots. And everything below the top foot might as well be used for another purpose.
Q: How close is close enough for an orange-chinned parrot?
A: Our two parrots spend most of their time inter-twined, with full body contact. It must be heaven for the older bird, who spent the first two years of its life alone in a cage.
Q: How much food can a parrot that weighs just a few ounces eat?
A: I put two breakfast dishes out this morning; one on the feeder inside the door, and one on the shelf with the box. Six hours later they were totally picked over, and none of the food was on the ground. The apple, papaya, mango, canteloupe, watermelon, banana, curly pasta and small seeds were gone. The broccoli and carrot? Not so popular. So I tried corn and peas when I prepared their supper bowls tonight.
Velcro parrots. Happy together.
Breakfast for two little parrots.
Six hours later. Where's dinner?
If this post brings my professionalism as a rehabilitator into question, so be it. I'm firmly opposed to dressing wild animals in clothes. But last night when I laid out what I was going to wear today, I inadvertently left the pile too close to Lolita's crib. (At a year-and-a-half of age Lolita is in a large cage outside during the day, but still spends the night in our bedroom and wakes us up for a bottle around 2:00 AM.)
I slept in this morning, and Paul snapped these photos of Lolita trying to put on my black sports bra. (I had no idea she watches so closely when I get dressed.) Lolita's "blanket" is to her left on the bottom of the cage, and my shirt...perhaps less of a challenge...is to her right.
The pictures are presented here in the order they were taken, as Lolita's apparent frustration increased.