Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mobo Stikes Out On His Own

Mobo grew and thrived and became very adept at negotiating the trees. On the morning of July 5, 2009, Mike left for Hawaii to visit his family. I was going to hold down the fort for three weeks. That afternoon, I took Mobo out to the stand of trees where we let him romp and jump to his hearts content. I noticed a few other monkeys in the area, but didn't think much about it.
An hour later, I went out to collect my little charge, but he was not in sight. I called and called and it was getting dark.
I could not find him. I was distraught. I finally went in the house and cried for my little baby monkey.

The next morning I went out again and looked for him. I morbidly thought if I at least found a body, I would know for sure. Still, I found nothing. I could only hope that he left with the other young monkeys I had noticed and was okay.

A couple of weeks later I was walking back from a visit with vegetable guy who delivered on Monday and noticed a troupe of young monkeys in the trees overhead. I stopped and was watching them when one young monkey stopped right over head and he was watching me! To my great surprise, he started sucking his thumb!!! There was no doubt in my mind that it was Mobo. I called him in the odd little clicking sound I made when I wanted him to come to me. He looked at me and he looked at the other monkeys. He looked at me for a long time and then jumped back to join the other others who were by this time moving on through the jungle. I stood there for a long time filled with relief that he appeared okay and sadness because I still missed him. But all in all, we succeeded in introducing him back to his enviroment. We have seen him several times on the deck when he would return and take bananas out of our hands. None of the other monkeys haved dared come so close. But our little Mobo had no problem with it.
The experience with Mobo was a happy one and one I will never forget.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Monkey Hi-Jinks

MoBo got very adept at tree climbing. He could climb really, really high and experimented with "free falling" and bouncing around on small branches. The bad news was: he refused to associate with his natural relatives. One evening while we were at the house, he got out of his cage and for the first time attempted to reach the house site via tree limbs. This was a HUGE endeavor for him as a few other squirrel monkeys were in the trees around his cage. He got way up high and started to get a bit panicky and started his "Mama, Mama, Mama" shriek in Monkey language. And then one of the most amazing things happened..... a young female monkey approached him and very kindly and gently reached out her arms to him............he wasn't about to have any part of it and promptly threw a fit and almost fell off the branch. We were holding our breath because at this point there was no way we could rescue him. Again the female monkey went over to him and reached out to him.. and he wailed and thrashed around in the branches. The female monkey was clearly distressed, and she attempted to reach out to him a couple of more times before she realized he was not going to cooperate. Monkey Boy fumbled his way through the rest of the tree branches and made it to the house where he started running towards me and promptly fell through a hole in the floor. ( We had temporary flooring in the pole house.) My heart stopped, but his little head popped up through the hole and he scampered over and clung to my ankles, His favorite clinging location at the time. I was very impressed with the behaviour of the female monkey. It was one of the sweetest gestures I've ever seen in the animal world.
Monkey Boy had gotten so good with his tree escapades, that when a troop of monkeys came through one day, I put him on a tree and encouraged him to climb. He was willing as long as I awas

in his sight, so I backed off and encouraged him to climb higher, HIGHER, HIGHER! The other monkeys were jumping around as they usually do, not real close, but definitely interested in the little baby monkey who seemed oblivious to them. He refused to look at them and would not accept their advances. Several monkeys "closed" in on him and was getting closer when he went into panic mode again and rapidly found a way down the tree, and came hopping like a grasshopper to where I was standing and promptly climbed up the legs of my overalls! He couldn't get any further than my knees and it looked pretty funny with a tail hanging my pants leg. Of course, by this time I was shrieking and pulling his tail to get him out of my pants...

Thursday, February 17, 2011


In time calling Monkey Boy, well, Monkey Boy became a bit wordy and we shortened it to MoBo. He continued to thrive and grow little by little. He thought himself to be much bigger and stronger than he really was and enjoyed "wrestling" with Mike. Mike was extremely gentle with the little fellow, but indulged MoBo's want of horseplay. Once, Mike was holding Mobo by his tail, he became agitated and retreated to my arm and lay there wimpering and sucking his thumb. I was petting him and comforting him and telling Mike he was a little

too rough, when out of the blue MoBo leaped off my arm and onto Mike with Hulk Hogan ferocity. He was ready for another round!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monkey School 101

In an effort to acclimate the baby monkey to his natural state, he had to go to monkey school. Unfortunately, with me as the teacher, he was a bit disadvantaged, but at that point I'm all he had. The first day of school did not go well as we attempted the class: Climbing Trees 101. Monkey Boy kept scampering down the tree and clinging to my ankles. The is not good for a couple of reasons. First, Squirrel Monkeys are arboreal animals which means they live in trees. Their safety and livelihood depends on them moving adeptly through tree tops, Second, it was hard for me to walk with a monkey clinging to my feet. Monkey Boy made an F in tree climbing class.
The next day was Observing other Monkeys day. Several male squirrel monkeys came down to Monkey Boy's cage and showed an interest in him. I took him out of the cage and was walking around with him to let the other monkeys know he was in no danger and also to let Monkey Boy observe who were surely his kinfolk , maybe even his brother or uncle! He wasn't helping things by sitting on my shoulder and trying to twist my head around so he could squeeze my lips... "Don't do that", I told him, "your brethren are going to think you a wimp."
The other monkeys just continued to look puzzled. We got an email from an authority on primates who advised if the other squirrel monkeys showed an interest in the baby, we should let them take him. Monkey Boy doesn't seem too interested in going with them.

So his education continued...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baby Love

Our little baby was quite affectionate and he loved attention. Of course, anything so small and adorable was easy to play with.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

First Bath

We gave Monkey Boy a bath. Sounds strange I guess, but the monkeys live in the rain forest and during the rainy season, they constantly get wet. We were amazed that a few minutes after his bath, his coat was completely dry. Evolution has provided them with remarkable water repelling fur. He took his first bath in stride.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tempest In A Teapot

Monkey Boy was so cute we couldn't resist all the photo opportunities that presented themselves. To be so small, he was quite tenacious and sometimes he wasn't fully cooperative when we were taking his picture. To get an idea of how small he was, we wanted to take a picture of him in a coffee cup. He wasn't particularly enamored with the idea.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Got Milk?

What's for lunch?

Our little monkey thrived on diluted dry milk, mashed bananas and a gruel I made from oatflakes, fruit and milk. I was hesitant about the oatflakes because it wasn't something natural he would ordinarily get from the wild. Everything I read on the internet regarding food for monkeys was for long term pets. Did you know you can get Monkey Chow by Purina? Anyway, he relished the gruel and he loved his little visine bottle. My main adjective

was to keep him alive.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Monkey Who Thought He Was Boy

Mike built the little monkey who we were now calling Monkey Boy, Chico, Wilbur and Willie Wonka, a large cage. We outfitted it with tree limbs and a large stuffed bear we named Big Mama. Monkey Boy liked to sleep on her head with his long tail wrapped around his face like a makeshift sleeping mask. Sometimes he would lie on Big Mama and suck his thumb and I would cry because he looked so vulnerable. It was simply amazing how closely he resembled a human baby. Slowly he grew and got more and more nimble in his tiny forest in the cage. He actually preferred clinging to Mike and me as he would his mother in the wild. We were advised not to handle him as this would cause him to get too attached to us. However, I found this advice heartless. He was too tiny to competely ignore and I felt the nurturing would be more beneficial than no contact at all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monkey Undercover

The time came to leave for San Jose and we called the director at the reserve to confirm when and where to drop off the baby monkey. However, the news was not good. The director advised us that the species of mono tities in the north of Costa Rica were different than the species found in the south. Regulations in the country did not permit him to accept our baby monkey as they wanted to keep the two species separate. Now what? We were in a bit of a quandary. It is illegal to keep an endangered animal as a pet in Costa Rica. But we could not find a legitimate establishment to take him. We also needed to go to San Jose which was a nine hour trip. What would we do with the little monkey? We finally decided to take him with us. Mike had a large camera case that made a very comfy little “baby carrier”. I padded the case with towels and got his little milk supply ready; which was basically a jar of milk and his little visine bottle.

We were nervous as there are several checkpoints in Costa Rica when traveling by automobile. Most of the time the armed policemen just checked documents and waved us through. But there was always the chance of a complete search. Most of the time, the little baby monkey just dozed, but every now and again his little head would pop out of the camera case and I knew he was ready to be fed. I was learning to distinguish his little peeps. Mono tities sound amazingly like birds. They chirp and peep and make little whistling sounds. He had a distinct and constant little peep when he was hungry.

We drove to San Jose without incident. We were staying with our friends, Dolly and George at their bed and breakfast in Alajuela. They were quite taken with our little charge and gladly “baby sat” while Mike and I attended our various appointments.

We spoke to a veterinarian while we were in San Jose and he advised orphaned baby monkeys usually “imprint” their caretakers making a release back into the wild very difficult. Adult monkeys do not make good pets as they get aggressive at sexual maturity. Sadly, most monkeys usually end up in a zoo or have to be euthanized. when they are older.

We left San Jose after a couple of days and headed back to Cuervito. Mike and I discussed at length about the baby monkeys future. After much soul searching, we decided to keep him and work towards a release to the forest when the time was right. We could only hope we were doing the right thing.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Monkey Who Fell From the Sky.

On February 24, 2009, Mike and I were sitting on the deck of the pole house Mike and I were building, with our friends Cathy and Tim. The sunset was gorgeous, we were laughing and enjoying each others company when Mike heard the transformer on the property sizzle and pop in that dismaying sound when something touches a live electrical wire. Mike climbed down the stairs and went over to the transformer and said, “Judy, come here.” I could tell by the sound of his voice it was not good. When Cathy and I reached Mike and Tim, he pointed to a mother squirrel monkey with a baby on her back. The mother had been electrocuted and she fallen about 12 feet with the baby still on her back. She was still alive, but seriously injured. She was trying to scamper away, but it was obvious she had been burned on her paws and was having problems moving. She was also disoriented and stunned. The decision was made to bring both of them back to the house and we found a large bucket and Mike picked up the Mother by the tail and dropped her in the bucket with the baby still clutching it’s mother.

We kept the Mother and baby in our bedroom that night and heard a bit of movement during the night and hoped for the best, however, upon arising the next morning, we discovered the mother had died still clutching her baby to her breasts. The baby appeared to be fine. Mike pulled the baby from the dead mother’s arms and it was one of the saddest sights I have ever witnessed. Seeing the mother lay there with her arms still folded over her chest like she was holding her baby made me weep. Mike buried the Mother and we started talking about what to do with the baby.

Before we came to Costa Rica, I jokingly asked Mike if I could have a monkey. He said only if a monkey fell at our feet. We soon came to realize how prophetic that joke was to become. We decided it was not a good idea to keep the baby monkey. He was building a house and I wasn’t ready to become a full time foster mother. We called an animal rescue in San Jose and they agreed to take the monkey. A tico family offered to take the monkey, but Mike and I ultimately agreed the best course of action would be to rehabilitate the baby monkey to be re-released into the wild. We were going to San Jose in a couple of weeks for some Medical appointments and we would take the baby monkey then.

The baby was waking up about every two and three hours at first for feedings. We were feeding it regular cow’s dry milk very much diluted. We fed him with a tiny visine eye dropper bottle. He would drink so fast and furious; his little stomach looked like a miniature baby Buddha. Due to not enough suckling from his real mother, he took to sucking his thumb. We were to later learn this behavior is not common among baby monkeys in the wild. The baby monkey got very attached to Mike and me right away and would clutch our arms with all of his might using the instincts for holding onto mother monkeys as they jumped through trees with daring leaps and bounds and freefalls.

Mike and I loved this adorable creature, but we were determined the best course of action would be for him to be in a wild live reserve.

Later, the Trip to San Jose.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Butterflies and Monkeys

Mike and I met online on September 18, 2007. His descriptions of his life in Costa Rica and his love for nature and especially his penchant for “soft winged things” as coined by Victor Hugo left me enchanted.
He sent me pictures of butterflies, birds, frogs and flowers. However there was one picture that he sent that changed everything! It was a picture of a mono titi, in Spanish, a squirrel monkey by common name. The little guy was draped around a limb of a tree sleeping. I had never even heard of a squirrel monkey, but it didn’t matter. I sent Mike an email back telling him that he had no way of knowing, but I LOVE MONKEYS. There are four species of monkeys in Costa Rica. The squirrel monkey or mono titi (pronounced mono-tee-tee), the white face monkeys or capuchins , the howler monkeys or mono Congo and the spider monkey. The spider monkey is no longer in our area, but fortunately is located in other areas of Costa Rica. So started our love affair fueled by joint interests of nature, water, music and many thoughts and beliefs held in common. In September of 2008, I took an early retirement. After visiting his family in Hawaii for seven weeks, I moved to Costa Rica in November of 2008. The adventure begins.