Monkey rehabilitation volunteer, Sarah Smith, shares her experience

Monkey rehabilitation volunteer shares her experience

I first booked my trip to the monkey rehabilitation centre through Oyster Worldwide in 2011. I went for 2 weeks which turns out wasn’t long enough! I had the most amazing experience of my life and the centre is amazing…

The daily routine starts at 7am…feeding the babies, preparing food for the main enclosures and cleaning the animals sleeping areas.
At 9 am we have breakfast…usually cereal or toast, sometimes pancakes and muffins and on a Sunday we have bacon and eggs (we collect the eggs from the free ranging chickens), and sometimes we even had ostrich eggs!

After breakfast we complete our chores and at 11 we have animal time…this will either be taking the baby monkeys to the pool where they learn to forage, climb trees and swim. The monkeys love this and it also prepares them for the semi wild enclosures.

At 1 we have an hour lunch and after (depending on how many volunteers there are) we split into our groups…one group will be on afternoon food prep and the others will monitor the animals. Monitoring is very important and helps volunteers to learn the primate behaviour. This is also a time where volunteers help check for any illness.
The rest of the day is spent with the monkeys by either sitting and watching or going inside the enclosures to play and interact.

This project is very hands on with the youngsters…we sit, cuddle and groom them giving them what they would be missing from their mothers. They naturally start to move away around 6-9 months and start to become a little more independent. Once this happens we stop taking them out and they spend more time with each other, forming their own hierarchy system and becoming an established troop.

After this process around 1-2 yrs old we then introduce them to the semi wild rehabilitation enclosure where they no longer have human contact and form a bond with a troop. This process works and I have seen it first hand, I actually went to the release site for the last troop of baboons and they are doing very well! They have actually merged with another troop and have had offspring…they are no longer interested in humans and moved away as soon as we were close.

The troop of baboons I hand reared will be released next April so I will be there to see them go back to where they belong. Without this centre none of these primates would have survived. Everything done there is for the primates and will in no way jeopardise the health or well being.

The owners have devoted every minute and penny they have to helping these primates and teaching others…and they achieve results! To date they have successfully released 18 troops of monkeys and 1 troop of baboons. Within the next year there will be 3 more troops of monkeys released and the troop of baboons in April next year.

The primates are wonderful…they say the animal chooses you and not the other way round… and when you are chosen it is the most amazing feeling in the world! They see you, chatter away and give brilliant hugs! There is nothing quite like it, they really have a way of making you fall in love with them.

The primates come first here and you can see from their behaviour that they are happy, thriving and have the best care possible.

So many volunteers return as they always leave their heart in Africa, I am just waiting to go back and collect mine…

To find out more about volunteering with monkeys visit our webpage or contact Anne on +44 (0) 1892 771975 or by email: anne@oysterworldwide.com

 

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