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Infant Howler Monkey Survives Serious Electrocution Injuries

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!

Under the exceptional care of our onsite veterinarian, Dr. Francisco Sánchez, Owen’s life was saved. The wound on his hip was incredibly deep and the burns were so severe that he was worried Owen might suffer from septic shock, severe dehydration, or kidney failure. Owen was given a lot of pain medication and at first he didn’t want to eat very much, but with excellent care from the staff and volunteers, he started to recover and gain some weight. The amputation sites healed very well, but his hip took longer because it needed to heal from the inside out and grow new tissue. Owen fully recovered after several months and was ready to move into the infant nursery.

During his first few days in the nursery, Owen called out for his mom. Although the nursery is attached to the Refuge, the outside walls are mesh wire which provides natural light, fresh air and the sounds of the jungle. Poor Owen thought maybe his mother was out there somewhere and called for her for several days. Soon he found comfort in the other orphans and stopped crying and started to smile!

He slowly learned to climb again without the use of his left leg. He was a little wobbly at first, but it didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. Now Owen is thriving! He has made lots of new friends and loves to play with the other orphans. In fact, he’s the most active infant in the nursery and spends the entire day chasing the other monkeys and wrestling! He is the fastest climber in the group of 17 infants and loves to hang upside down!

Owen will need several more years of care at Refuge for Wildlife until he’s old enough to be released back into the forest. Because of the extent of his injuries and the fact that electrocution often has delayed internal tissue damage, our veterinarian will be keeping a close watch over him in the next several months to a year 

The cost of saving the survivors of electrocution is high. Not only does each injured monkey need specialist veterinary care, the infants need years of care before they will be old enough to be released. Learn more about what we’re doing to rehabilitate electrocuted howler monkeys.