The last few weeks at CERCOPAN have been very difficult, after beloved Red Eared guenon ‘Robotta’ became very ill and seemed unable to move her back legs. As soon as we noticed the first symptoms, she was moved into the office for constant observation and we began a course of medication and extreme TLC. In complete contrast to mangabeys, when guenons fall ill, they tend to become depressed and not want to eat or drink, which makes them feel even worse and want to eat even less. Our challenge is therefore to keep them eating and drinking no matter how sorry for themselves they feel. Thankfully we have a few tricks up our sleeve – baby food made with milk and honey, smoothies made with all of their favourite fruits, foods that are of interest as they have never encountered them before and a list of the things we know each animal likes best. If the monkeys wont take the food themselves, we encourage by hand feeding, syringe feeding and presenting different options throughout the day until we succeed – sometimes I think they start eating simply because they realise it is the easier option as we are even more stubborn than they are!
When Robotta first arrived at CERCOPAN, she was so sick we thought we would not be able to pull her through. She surprised us all, when after a period of intensive care not only did she make a full recovery, she quickly became the largest and most dominant baby in quarantine! Thankfully Robotta had the same response to treatment on this occasion and within a matter of weeks was fit, active, using her legs and ready to return to her group. As she was away from the other red-eared guenons for some time however, we had to slowly reintroduce her. This is because when you remove any monkey, even it is only for a few weeks, the dynamics of group can change and the primate may not receive the warm welcome home you would expect.
As a first step we placed Robotta in the satellite of the enclosure, so all animals could interact through the mesh. After a couple days of observations, we let Robotta out into the group but quickly removed her when Rudolpha and Flexi, began giving her a hard time. With Robotta again separated,we introduced Rudolpha independently and by the end of the day they were mutually grooming one another. Flexi, the youngest of the group, is still not sure what to think of Robotta’s return, but we are sure he will come around over the next few days and thankfully life in the Red eared group will return to normal.
If you would like to help us care for the Red Eared Guenons at CERCOPAN, please consider adopting Robotta’s group today http://cercopan.org/adopt/