Now that rainy season is upon us, the general mood of staff, volunteers, and monkeys in Calabar is a little glum compared with the recent sunshine-filled days of dry season. Damp staff clean out enclosures where soggy monkeys peep down from under their roof shelters, and everyone is waiting and hoping for some sun to brighten their day.
Last week however, a little ray of sunshine entered the compound in the form of a tiny, mischievous putty-nosed guenon, who was brought in by a concerned member of the public. After seeing the little orphan terrified and alone at a market, the gentleman had felt so sorry for her, that he bought her immediately and carried her straight to CERCOPAN (Centre for Education, Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature) to give her a better life.
The man had carried the baby to us in a small cardboard box and on seeing me, he opened the lid and the tiny creature cautiously peeped out her head. The sight of several pairs of human eyes and the backdrop of primate enclosures filled with animals all staring at her was overwhelming and she she quickly lept out and hid behind her rescuers legs.
Nervously Bingo peeks out from behind her rescuer’s legs.
Egu, our head keeper quickly brought over a plate of food and I tried to tempt out the nervous infant; hoping to win her over with some tasty treats. As fear slowly gave way to hunger, she gradually tiptoed out and stood in awe of the big plate of food put before her. It wasn’t long before she plunged face first into fruit, now completely oblivious of everything and everyone around her! Being so young, in the wild she would have just started moving on to solid food and so the softest fruits were the first to disappear.
Seeing so much food Bingo dives in head first.
We are not sure how long she had been away from her mother, who was likely shot for bushmeat leaving the infant alone in the clutches of the hunter. She was in very good condition however, so it is likely that it was only days before.
After hearing fellow putty-nosed guenon calls, Bingo tries to find her voice.
Once she had her fill of fruit, we brought out some milk, essential to all young orphaned primates for healthy development…..and loved by monkeys of all ages!. She gulped down the milk and now completely at ease, began bouncing all over me as if we had been best friends her whole life!
Milk is a firm favorite amoung all monkeys and helps Bingo feel more relaxed.
Before leaving, her rescuer named her Bingo. We explained to him that in the future if he ever saw another primate in a market he should not buy the animal as doing so encourages trade, rather he should report to CERCOPAN so that we can go and confiscate the orphan.
As we walked Bingo into the office, which will be her home for the next few weeks, outstretched arms appeared from every passing enclosure as all our resident adult females indicated that they wanted to be the one to hug and care for the tiny infant. Bingo must go through quarantine before being introduced to a group, but as all of our monkeys seem so desperate to mother her, she will certainly have no problem fitting in anywhere!
If you want to help CERCOPAN continue to provide a refuge for monkeys like Bingo, please support our cause today. As a non-profit organisation we rely fully on donations by caring people such as yourself to feed our ever growing primate family. With over 160 monkeys currently between our two sites we have so many mouths to feed and we just cant do it without you.
With yet another mouth to feed, CERCOPAN really needs your support!