Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ramona the street monkey

As well as looking after the monkeys we have in house, we also operate an outreach program. We visit monkeys we consider to be at risk in various areas of our locality. Ramona is a street Howler; she spends her day chained to a leafy street tree on the pavement. When we first called on her, the owners were adamant that she was a boy and called her Ramon. ‘You can see, it’s quite obvious that Ramon is a boy’, the owners said. . They were pointing at the Ramona's external genitilia. Even though we showed the owner photographs of Howler male and female organs, they still refused to accept that their very beautiful young lady was a girl. Time passed and we continued to pay regular visits with bunches of leaves collected freshly from the forest. One day a year ago, she was not in her tree. We asked about her whereabouts and we were told that she was sick and in the house. The owner took us to see her asking if we could recommend a Vet to examine her. We were then told the whole story. She had freed herself from the chain and climbed up onto the electric cables that ran across the top of the house. She received a shock and fell to the ground. She was in severe pain when we examined her. We called the ARFA to see if their Vet could come and treat Ramona. Fortunately, the Vet was available. So a large party came to visit Ramona. The president of ARFA Lucy Alio, Gabriela, and Gomikko the ARFA Vet and myself. The Vets opinion was that she had no lasting damage from the shock but had a hairline fracture from the fall. A course of treatment and medicine was prescribed and we left leaving a now visibly relieved owner.
She responded well to the treatment and within a month, she was back in her tree.
On another visit, we again found that she was not in her tree and I was alarmed, thinking that she had climbed onto the wire again. However, that was not the case. She had been moved to another tree behind an adjacent shop. She had become aggressive and had started biting people as they passed in the street. You can see from our photograph that she is a large monkey and capable of giving a severe bite. Howlers do bite and often without provocation and are unsuitable as pets. On our later visits, she had returned to her tree in the street but there can be no garantee that she will not bite again.
A strange reason finally convinced the owners that Ramona was a girl. We were taking Imanol for a check up to the Vet in San Carlos, he has been plagued with mites in his coat, and we planned a short visit with leaves to Ramona on the way. Ramona gave us her usual friendly greeting and accepted our gift. The owners noticed Imanol in the car and wanted to play with him. ‘Oh that is a boy’, the owner could see the difference and now at last recognizes Ramona as a girl.
Ramona is a heathy Howler monkey and is loved and cared for by her owner. We wish that one day they care enough to give Ramona the opportunity of motherhood

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