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Orphaned Howler Progress Report

Now that Mango, Stan and Ana have returned to the forest successfully, it’s time for the other orphaned howlers in our care to move another step closer to release. Currently we have 34 orphaned howler monkeys in our 5-step rehabilitation program that are learning the essential skills they will need to survive in the wild. As they grow, the infants are moved into different enclosures that are specifically designed to help them progress as wild monkeys that do not depend on humans. 

The Next Group to be Released

This large troop of monkeys will be the next group to be released. Bianca, Owen, Kenneth, Pricilla, Erick, and Hendrix are taking the next step and moving out of the Juvenile Nursery into our Pre-Release Enclosure! The group will spend the next several months preparing for release with limited human contact and enrichment activities that will promote independence skills required for release. In about 10 months this gorgeous group of survivors will be moved to our Release Enclosure deep in the remote forest and finally be released!

Success Stories from the Troop

Owen has been through a lot and he almost died because of his injuries. He was very badly electrocuted and needed extensive care in our clinic. The muscle on his left leg and foot was damaged beyond repair – the tissue was necrotic and the skin had peeled off the foot. Amputation of the leg was needed to save his life and to avoid further complications from septicaemia.  Several severely damaged fingers on both hands were amputated as well. He had a large gaping wound on his right hip which was probably where the electrical current exited his body. The hole was several centimetres wide and deep and the muscle was exposed. It was in a difficult location and we were worried that if it became infected that he would die. He had electrical burns on his face, stomach and tail that was also very bad. We see these kinds of injuries from electrocution every week, and the prognosis isn’t good – most monkeys that are this severely injured die soon after they are rescued. It was a lot for a young infant howler to survive, but Owen had an incredible fighting spirit and proved us all wrong! Owen fully recovered after several months and was ready to move into the Infant Nursery.  Owen is a submissive male and is a lot smaller than the other males in the troop. While the bigger males play dominance games most of the day, Owen is happy just snuggling up with one of the girls – he likes Pricilla the most. Owen has since graduated to our Junior Nursery, Juvenile Nursery and now he’s preparing for release in our Pre-release Enclosure! Learn more about Owen here
Kenneth was badly attacked by an alpha male in March 2018 here in Playa Guiones. In the past few years we have seen an increase in howler injuries caused by other howlers. Most attacks are caused by troops fighting for resources – whether it’s food, habitat or females. Kenneth was lucky. Although his injuries were severe, he was not injured on his face. Unfortunately, his tail had to be amputated as it was snapped in half with bone and muscle exposed. His arm was ripped open, but our onsite veterinarian Dr. Francisco Sánchez Murillo was able to expertly suture the arm and close the wound. Kenneth healed fast, but unfortunately, he also had a fracture to that same arm so his recovery took longer than anticipated. Now Kenneth has grown a lot and has become a strong and confident young adult!  Kenneth loves to wrestle with his best friends, Hendrix and Sebastian – the three of them spent most of the day showing off by chasing each other around the enclosure! Read more about Kenneth and watch a video about his story here.

Older Infants Moving to Juvenile Nursery

Rescued as infants, 9 orphaned howler monkeys have moved from our Junior Nursery into our Juvenile Nursery. Most have been in our rehabilitation program for 2 years, overcoming life-threatening injuries. The new enclosure is very large with an inside space filled with ropes and a massive jungle gym and an outdoor space with vines, swings, hammocks and bamboo platforms perfect for sunbathing. Summer, Oto, Esmeralda, Lupe, Rafiki, Yahaira, Eva, Jaimico and Dylan have shown great progress in their rehabilitation and have demonstrated that they have the necessary skills and behavior to move to this next step in our program.

Success Stories from the Troop

In September 2017, Esmeralda was badly electrocuted when her mother climbed onto an uninsulated power transformer in Playa Guiones. When infant howlers are badly electrocuted their prognosis isn’t good. It’s very hard for a tiny infant to survive the damage that is caused by electricity. Esmeralda’s mother climbed onto a high voltage transformer with 34,400 volts of deadly electricity flowing through it and was killed instantly. Esmeralda sustained electrical burns to her face, tail, feet, back and hand -with several fingers severely burned to the point that they needed to be amputated. This was a lot for an infant howler, who was only a few months old at the time, to endure, but Esmeralda fought hard and has now fully recovered! Esmeralda has a mischievous personality and is always looking to have some fun. She loves to smile and play games with the other monkeys. She’s a little smaller than the other monkeys in her troop, but her larger than life personality makes up for it! Read more about Esmeralda here.
Oto was only 3 weeks old when he fell from his mother’s back after she was attacked by an alpha. Poor Oto was left on the ground as his mother escaped and was then pecked at by hungry vultures. When he arrived at the Refuge, he had scratches and wounds all over his face and hands, but thanks to the medical treatment he received, he healed very quickly. Oto was a little slower to develop than the other when he was younger. He required more attention from our caregivers and was still attached to comfort items, such as hot water bottles and teddy bears as he grew older. Oto also self-soothed by sucking his thumb so much that it is now permanently bent!  Now that Oto has grown out of his infant stage and has become an independent juvenile howler, he has become extremely confident and is now the alpha of the troop!

Big Step for our Junior Monkeys

Moving from the Infant Nursery into the Junior Nursery we have 5 orphaned howlers: Chelsea, Libby, Leslie, Marcos, and Emily! This is a very big milestone for these young infants because the Junior nursery does not have a human caregiver (but it is right next door so we can keep a close watch on them) and the infants will no longer be hand-fed infant formula. The Junior enclosure has more enrichment items, challenging vines and ropes, less comfort items like teddy bears and new foods like mango and watermelon.

Success Stories from the Troop

Libby fell from a tree in Santa Cruz and badly fractured her femur. In order to save her leg, she needed special orthopaedic surgery in San Jose. Thanks to donations from the public, the surgery was performed by Dr Randall Arguedas who has experience with these difficult fractures. Intramedullary pins were inserted into her leg with external fixation to repair the damage. Libby is now thriving in our care! She’s regained all the strength in her leg and is now climbing confidently! Libby is the most unique looking howler in our care with her very distinctive facial features. Due to her injury, she was a little slower to progress than the other monkeys her age, but she’s always been independent and never required any human caregiving.  We are confident that Libby will become the alpha female of the troop because she is quick to tell off any misbehaving monkey in the group.  Read more about Libby here.
Leslie was rescued in Samara when she and her mother got electrocuted by uninsulated power lines. Thankfully both lived due to the low voltage in the area, but Leslie’s mother was scared and ran off leaving Leslie behind needing our help. Leslie has been with us for many months now and was, for a long time, the smallest infant in our nursery. She is now very brave and confident and, although she had a minor setback in her rehabilitation when she injured her arm playing, she is now thriving! Leslie has become best friends with Ellie because the two of them arrived around the same time and they were the same age – it was actually very hard to tell them apart for a while! Leslie has now grown to be bigger and stronger than her friend Ellie and confidently jumps around the enclosure showing off her skills.


Infant Monkeys Available for Adoption – Mango Troop

The youngest infants in our care are now available for virtual adoption!  Through our partner organization, International Animal Rescue, you can help us care for these sweet infants by virtually adopting the entire troop inside the Infant Nursery! Your donation will go towards food, shelter, medical expenses and care for Mango Troop here in Nosara, Costa Rica. As a thank you, you will receive a personalized certificate, a photo, a fact sheet about the howler troop and regular email updates throughout the year. The monkeys in Mango Troop will be with us for another 4-5 years before they are old enough to be released and you will have the opportunity to watch them grow and eventually be released back into the forest! Visit IAR’s website to learn more about adopting Refuge for Wildlife’s Mango Troop.

Success Stories from the Troop
Mario was only a few days old when he was rescued and he’s already suffered the pain of electrocution and the loss of his mother. With his silver fur and umbilical cord attached, he is the smallest newborn we have ever had at Refuge for Wildlife. The tip of his tiny tail was completely severed and because the rest of his tail was severely damaged with burns, inflammation, and torn muscles, it quickly became necrotic and needed to be amputated. Mario was given immediate medical treatment at our clinic which includes pain management medication, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and soothing burn cream.  Sadly, this tiny infant has spent the first several weeks of his life inside our incubator clinging on tightly to furry teddy bears and soothing hot water bottles which are used as a surrogate mother. Mario has an adventurous spirit and from a very young age he was exploring the more advanced areas of the enclosure. Mario does still require human caregiving and comfort items, but he should require less attention as he matures. 
Liza was rushed to our rescue center by the MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy) for treatment and care. Shockingly, Liza’s singed fur, thermal burns to her face inside her nose tell us that her mother’s body caught on fire during the accident. Liza sustained both electrical and thermal burns. Thanks to the medical attention she’s been receiving, including pain management medication, anti-inflammatories, oxygen therapy and soothing burn cream, Liza has now fully recovered from her injuries. Liza is best friends with Mario and the two infants are almost always spotted together. When they first arrived, they were the youngest infants in our care and they bonded while they took naps together on hot water bottles. Liza is slightly less confident than Mario when it comes to exploring, but she has now grown bigger and stronger than Mario.