Wildlife rescue, rehab, and conservation in Belize – Injured baby monkey – Part 1

I heard it once too much! I should share some words about what it is I do and care about.

“Noone knows what you do. So why should anybody care?” Just follow me one morning and beginning of one animal’s story in rough, quickly composed words, about Be the judge and tell me! Should anyone care? Would you want to know how the story ends?

And, yes, I have been doing this work in wildlife rescue and conservation for years, but that is a different story.

I was woken up by the phone. That rarely ever happens! Usually, my kids wake me up before anybody would call.

I look at the phone and it does not tell me who it is, but the number looks vaguely familiar. Three-quarters awake I ponder if I silence it or if it might be „important“ (enough to rip me out of them all so rare deep sleep state) and my conscience awakes „ you HAVE to answer your phone it is important to whoever is calling“…

Phone on-ear, I quickly recognize Pauls’s voice: it’s about a Howler monkey, an injured one, and a baby! Paul had had the „pleasure“ (excuse my questionable humor) of receiving the midnight call about a baby howler monkey found on the ground, screaming, in a rainstorm, and obviously hurt on his arm at a resort in Punta Gorda. Paul was able to coach the concerned resort staff via the phone to bring the baby inside, warm it up, and keep it safe and sound overnight. Unfortunately, the images of the injury shared via email show a severe laceration, open and comminuted fracture of the left lower arm with no use of a limb. This would, without medical care, be a certain death sentence for this howler monkey, a fate which the rescuers did not want to accept.

Now the baby should be on its way to take the plane from Punto Gorda to Belize City, thanks to Tropic Air! Then it will travel from the international airport with Paul, who is himself coming from Sarteneja, close to the furthest northeastern tip of the country. Hopefully, they will all arrive safe and sound in beautiful inland Cayo, on the western border to Guatemala, and see me, the wildlife vet. I do travel a lot to see my patients, to minimize the stress for them, but every now and then an animal has to come to me in my not yet really existing „clinic“, a 3 m x 4 m space, most efficiently used to squeeze in the table, desk, shelves, storage, and basic meds and tools.

And then we will have to see the actual extent of his injuries and hope to be able to set his broken bone and keep him through the healing process. We are fortunate to have the specialized howler monkey rescue center at Wildtracks. The heartbreaking part is that the baby’s mother was calling for it this morning. But it is not unheard of to try to re-unite this baby with its troup after completed healing.

Although it would be a miracle to succeed in so many steps, or?

The first step after transport: anesthesia and surgery to assess and hopefully repair bones. Unfortunately, this has to be done with the more risky injectable anesthesia, since we still need to acquire the funding to replace the old non-working anesthesia machine. But, call me crazy, I believe that one day we will have a proper set-up clinic with gas anesthesia and diagnostics!

And, maybe with your help, we can get the word out there about our needs to better assist the conservation of wildlife species in Belize?

We will keep our fingers crossed for the baby and you will see!?