Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Shuffle the pack

I have been asked why we do not put together a pack from our animals and release them as a family into the wild. This is my wish. But there are constrains and I have here, briefly put my reasoning for our policy.

In various places on my blog I have explained why I do not release howler monkeys that we have in our care to the wild. There is no possibility that we will ever release our monkeys as a pack.

In desperation (my death or incapacity to continue the work), they could be released in special groups, although this would be a dangerous procedure, possibly resulting in the transfer of diseases that they have acquired during their association with humans to the children in the wild. The effect of simple diseases such as flu or the common cold can have far-reaching effect on monkeys. These diseases are known to involve the brain in monkeys.

More serious from the human point of view is that the viruses will evolve and at some point come back as a retro virus. This is the most dangerous aspect of release. We think of Aid’s, Mad Cow disease, Chicken flu as a short list of the current problems evolving from retrovirus from the wild.

I continuously scan the literature for a report of a vaccine that could obviate this problem. From personal experience, I know that even the most scrupulous, professional examination of a sick animal is still unable to detect all possible dangerous infections. I do not wish to elaborate more here, on this subject but if you need to know, please ask me.

It would be my dearest wish to see my children free in the forest where they belong. My puny effort at providing a near normal life for them palls against the possibility of real freedom. They are part of a grander design that is faulted without them.

From a purely practical point of view, we have to consider the patricidal characteristics of Howler society. I have recently blogged about patricide

Given the opportunity.

Totto would kill Mañiña, Schatov, and Marco.

Sussy would kill Emma and Schatov. Some time ago she attacked both of them resulting in the loss of a finger in the case of Emma and a very swollen hand in the case of Schatov.

Sophie would kill Rosita, Nancy and Schatov.

The attack that resulted in Imanol’s fracture was caused by Totto and Sophie attacking him through the cage.

If unsuccessful in killing the target, it would result in the intended victim fleeing.

We have experienced fleeing many times. Many of the animals that fled years ago now have families in the wild near our compound. I visit them quite often.

This is the reason why we carefully select companions for our Howlers and keep them in separate enclosures, they are not all compatible. They are not like Capuchins who are much more tolerant in their groups.

I suppose that I should come clean and say that I personally oppose release into the wild of any species. I know that ARFA would not agree with me about that but they are aware of my views.

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