Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Ghosts.

At Cañaote, we receive many phone calls requesting places from Howler monkey owners. We call owners, donors. Our facility is small and we can accept only a small number of monkeys.
After a number of calls sometimes, we hear no more. I wonder what happens to the monkeys. We call these monkeys ‘the ghosts’. An example was the female child who had only one leg. The owner had allowed the family dog to savage her and she lost a leg. For humanitarian reasons, we agreed to take her. We were prepared to make a special location for her so that she always near human care and attention. However, after a number of phone calls we heard no more.

Donors are often worried about bringing their children to us. One family visited twice before finally leaving the little boy with us each time leaving in a shower of tears. Another visited, intending it to be just a ‘look see’ visit and finally left the little fellow with us. The point I am making is that parting can be very traumatic and we understand because we have been through this many times.
Another local family brings their female monkey to visit. The mother complains about neck and shoulder pains. Her doctor has told her that the monkey sitting on her shoulder aggravates it.

Currently we have two donors one in Valencia and another in Caracas that have not confirmed their requests. We have mentioned Lala, from Caracas. Her donors are currently not in Venezuela. We worry about her whereabouts, and how she is being treated and fed.
A foundation has been in touch with us over the last few weeks concerning an adult. They are still deciding as the weeks go by.
Donors of a small boy have asked for a place with us through their Vet and now are having second thoughts. Where does love begin and selfish end? How can you say that you love an animal and then deprive it of a natural existence? Deny the monkey its place in the order of life.
I have a theory about our ‘ghosts’. When I lived in England, we were fortunately able to employ a servant or housekeeper. Often I would find the newspaper open on the table at the situations vacant column with rings marked around various positions. We also had calls from potential employees asking for appointments, most of which were never kept. This was a proving, that if they wanted to leave their present employer, they could. They prove to themselves that their services are wanted elsewhere and that they could leave at anytime. Monkey donors, I believe are doing the same thing. They are testing to see that if they needed to divest themselves of the monkey, they could. Typically Howler monkeys live in the forest to the age of 20, in captivity rather longer, say 25. When people buy a monkey from a boy by the roadside, are they thinking about their responsibility for the next 25 years?
There are small monkey ghosts out there needing help. They are living in a strange world that is neither human nor monkey. We want to think that we will never refuse a monkey but the demands grow and our facility is limited. We have the land, the love and the will but the money eludes us.
However great the human love bestowed on a monkey, it cannot replace the pride of fatherhood, the love of the monkey mother for her child and the freedom of the forest.
Our picture is of Chipi on one of her visits to us.

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