A few days ago, not long after settling our new Managabey into his enclosure at CERCOPAN HQ, we received a phone call from one of our security staff informing us that an endangered baby red-eared guenon was being kept as a pet at a bar. Our primate care staff immediately dropped everything and got ready to go with the Director, Claire, for a rescue attempt. With one of our trucks out of action and the other at our forest site, getting there and back would be a problem. Normally staff would travel on an okada; a bike taxi that can usually be seen weaving between vehicles and passer-bys. These bike taxis have just been banned within Calabar City centre and this has made a huge impact on our work and daily operations, seriously inhibiting rescue investigations and adding considerable costs to monkey food and construction/maintenance materials. Taxis have been introduced, but at the moment there are very few in operation and so Claire and the staff were forced to stand at the top of the road and hail a passing vehicle and offered the driver money to take them to get the monkey.
Red ear upon arrival at CERCOPAN
The Red Ear was in a very rough area of town and as Claire, Matthew, Abraham and Joshua walked through the dusty streets carrying the travelling box, a noisy crowd began following behind them. They arrived at the bar to find a small red-eared guenon, about a year old, dangling spider-like on a rope tied to the ceiling. The monkey was able to climb up and down the rope and sit in the rafters, but unfortunately was unable to reach the floor and so was just hanging there, several inches from the ground blocking the entrance of the bar. The Staff quickly identified and approached the owner, whilst Claire went to check the monkeys health and comfort him. It soon transpired that the bar owner had bought the monkey that morning and as a result he was very angry at the thought of giving the animal to CERCOPAN unless we planned to compensate him for his loss of money. CERCOPAN never gives money for a monkey as it encourages the idea that it is a profitable market and may result in people taking more monkeys to deliberately try to sell them to the organisation. Tension began rising and the bystanders started shouting a CERCOPAN staff, exclaiming that if Claire had not been there they would have ‘beaten’ them. Eventually, Claire and the staff managed to calm the crowd and it was agreed that we would go together to visit the dealer who sold the man the monkey earlier that day.
Baby red ear being comforted by Claire
Some of the more vocal members of the crowd from the bar piled into one vehicle while our staff climbed back into the vehicle they had commandeered, with the driver now clearly wondering how he had managed to get himself into this situation. After a few minutes they arrived at the dealers compound and tense negotiations once again began in earnest. Once the dealer handed over the money he had received that morning the bar owner and his friends left, however, this compound itself had it’s own lively and not too gracious pack who were not happy about the idea of an uncompensated removal of this red-ear monkey. Claire, practiced at these types of negotiations, remained composed and friendly despite being yelled at by the crowd. She eventually managed to separate and calm some of the most vocal individuals, whilst the staff continued to concentrate on the dealer. After three hours of explaining to all that keeping monkeys as pets in Nigeria is against the law and how a monkey does not make a good pet, the dealer finally took Claire to one side and asked her to send someone back for the animal an hour later when the crowd had dispersed.
It turned out the dealer had been very fond of this little red-ear monkey and had actually treated him very well in comparison to many other cases we have seen. We feel very lucky to have rescued him at that time as the conditions he was found in at the bar would have made him very sick very quickly. He is especially friendly and seems to have been trained to lie back very baby-like, enjoying nothing more than a good belly rub. He loves to take huge leaps between furniture and especially loves jumping on a human from a great distance then leaping straight back off again. This playful, inquisitive nature has also resulted in many books, cups, pens, and anything else available being carried across the room – not too carefully I may add! Now in quarantine, he has undergone his first TB test and after 14 weeks will be moved in with 2 other red-ear guenons (Mickey and Jerry) that are of a similar age.
The new baby red ear having his belly rubbed
The two new additions bring us to a grand total of 158 monkeys now in our care, and with prices increasing for Christmas and the transport issues also adding additional costs, we are once again feeling the strain. Your donations and support really are so important and enable us to continue to provide the best possible care for every single monkey that needs our help. You can also give your support by purchasing a CERCOPAN gift or monkey adoption for your friends and family this Christmas. Please visit our shop today at