When infant howlers are badly electrocuted their prognosis isn’t good; it is very rare that howler infants survive such terrible electrocution injuries. Their little bodies are so fragile and the damage caused by electrocutions can be gruesome and usually fatal.
In Sept 2017, Esmeralda’s mother climbed onto a high voltage transformer with 34,400 volts of deadly electricity flowing through it and was killed instantly. Esmeralda, who was riding on her mother’s back at the time, was badly burned but wasn’t killed because her mother absorbed most of the current. Esmeralda sustained electrical burns to her face, tail, feet, back, and hands – 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. We did not think she would survive. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff, Esmeralda is thriving two years later! She is still receiving round-the-clock care and will stay with us until she’s 4-5 years old before she’s old enough to be released.
Esmeralda is easy to spot in the enclosure because she has a distinctive lightning bolt scar along her right side, is missing several fingers on her left hand, and her tail is bent at the very tip. She’s a little bit smaller than her friends, but she makes up for her lack of size with her sparkling personality! Esmeralda is well known for being a bit of a prankster; smiling as she pulls at the tails of her friends or leaps onto their heads!
Esmeralda and her troop recently graduated from our Junior Nursery into the larger Juvenile Nursery filled with new and challenging enrichment items! With more advanced ropes, swings and platforms, Esmeralda and her friends are perfecting the climbing and foraging skills that they will need once they are old enough to be released. The Juvenile Nursery is the 3rd stage of our 5 Stage Rehabilitation Program. We are so proud of the progress Esmeralda has made!
Although Esmeralda has beaten the odds, she is the exception to the rule – most electrocution victims succumb to their injuries. The survival rate for electrocuted wildlife is very low. More than half of all electrocuted howlers die at the scene (or shortly after) and approximately two-thirds of electrocution patients that receive treatment succumb to internal injuries weeks/months later. The best solution to end injuries and deaths caused by electrocution is prevention! Visit our Stop the Shocks webpage to learn more: http://refugeforwildlife.org/stop-the-shocks/
Refuge for Wildlife Stop the Shocks
Electrocution is the #1 killer of howler monkeys in Costa Rica. Every year Refuge for Wildlife rescues hundreds of monkeys and other wildlife that have been electrocuted due to uninsulated power lines and transformers. In addition to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing these animals we are also dedicated to preventing injures and deaths caused by electrocution. Our Stop the Shocks committee focuses it’s efforts on insulating power lines and transformers while continuing to educate the community about wildlife safety.