Sunday, February 18, 2007

Who lives in BIG HOUSE?

Dramatis personae.
MonaLisa now 5 years old and was brought to us when she was aged 1 year and 9 months. Since then the owner has not inquired even once about her.
Rosita just a baby and fostered by MonaLisa. The family that brought her to us inquire often.
Schatov came to us in January 06. His family inquires about him frequently and pays him visits. A delightful monkey, well mannered, friendly and loving..
Mañiña is nearly three years old. He has been neutered. His human family inquires about him frequently. He is a delightful personality.
Emma is two years old and came to us from the ARFA rescue facility. She is the foster mother of Nancy. A very young foster mum.
Nancy has been with us only four months and came to us from a Vet in Valencia. She has yet to learn to trust the staff.. Possibly traumatized during capture.

Relationships among Howler monkeys are dynamic. They are a constantly developing and changing factor. We have a group of monkeys that we regard as being semi domesticated. These monkeys have spent long periods in the company of humans and their behavior has been modified by that experience. These changing relationships can be difficult to manage. Let us look at the group, MonaLisa and Rosita, Schatov and Mañiña, Emma and Nancy. They occupy a dividable enclosure alongside our house. They were selected to occupy this place because they showed a tendency to enjoy being with other monkeys. The first part is roofed and leads to an outside area, which contains a specially constructed monkey house and high walkways, swings and hamocks. A small gate separates these two areas. Access to our house is possible through the window of a room, which adjoins the enclosure. Formally, Schatov and Emma occupied another enclosure together. We moved them to the enclosure described above for security reasons. We felt that there was a danger of them being attacked by thieves. However, in the new area, enmity developed between them and it was necessary to keep them apart. The dividing gate was closed. Mañiña and Emma were also antagonistic. The final situation was that Schatov, Mañiña with MonaLisa and Rosita lived on the roofed part of the area and Emma, and Nancy lived on the garden side.
Clearly, this was unsatisfactory from a health point of view. The monkeys on the inside were not getting enough sunshine. We quickly instituted a program of monitored mixing between the two groups. A helper or I would be nearby all the time to be sure that peace prevailed. There were a number of incidences where it was necessary to intervene. But these have gradually subsided and they can now be left unattended without bad behavior. The little understood animosities are still there. Mañiña ventures out into the garden area and places himself well away from Emma. There is a certain amount of squabbling between Schatov and Mañiña but I regard this as two young boys playing even though it can get a little rough, no one gets hurt. Later the two can be seen sleeping together in a fruit box. Little Nancy loves Emma and MonaLisa, plays hard all day with Rosita. She adopts Emma’s dislike of Mañiña and Schatov. Actually to be frank, she doesn’t like me very much either. Nancy puffs up and readies for attack at the slightest provocation. We are working on it, but she is a difficult monkey. I am sure that it has been caused by the circumstances of her capture, which must have been traumatic.
I hope that wasn’t to complicated to understand, you really have to experience it to understand the complex interaction.
Our picture shows Mañiña and Schatov enjoying an afternoon nap in a fruit box. Schatov is on the right.

No comments: