Ronny has been with us since early 2017 after he was severely electrocuted by uninsulated power lines. Unfortunately most of Ronny’s burns were on his face. And the injury was gruesome. It was the first time we have ever seen an electrocution injury like this.
Although the burns looked very bad, Ronny behaved normally. He ate very well and with the medication and treatments from our veterinarian, Dr. Francisco Sánchez, he was never in any pain. Ronny wanted to live and we decided to give him a chance. We developed a treatment plan based on our years of experience with electrical burns on howler monkeys, but this was an unique case and we weren’t sure what the outcome would be.
For months, Ronny’s burns were cleaned, our vets performed debridement and slathered his face in silver sulfadiazine burn cream every day. The extent of his injuries meant that healing went slowly.
Sadly, the open wounds on his face took almost a year to heal and scar tissue has formed around his left eye. Burns in humans sometimes take years to heal and they often need skin grafts to replace severely damaged tissue that can no longer grow. Because of the location of Ronny’s burns and the disfigured eyelid (and because he’s a wild animal) a skin graft surgery was deemed too risky. This was the first case we have seen like this and we have learned a lot from it.
Although Ronny has been well enough to transition into a large outdoor enclosure for the past four months, his disfigured face still needs daily veterinary care. We did not know what to expect when we decided to give Ronny the chance at life that he wanted and we had hoped that his face would heal enough so he could be released back into the jungle. Unfortunately, at this time, he still needs veterinary care.
In the time that Ronny has been with us, he has grown from a juvenile into a beautiful adult howler. He’s started to grow a beard and is asserting his dominance among the other howler residents at the Refuge by practicing a deep howl several times a day. He loves fresh mango and papaya leaves and has been really enjoying the enrichment changes to his enclosure. He now has a large enclosure and we’re hoping that soon we can introduce him to a new friend, Mama – who also suffers from a facial disfigurement (from an alpha male attack) and cannot be released.