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Kids Saving the Rainforest – May/June 2017

KSTR logoBy Lexi Baka

Hello, once again! It’s me. I’m writing to you from Florida currently, although when you see this I will most likely be back in Costa Rica. My family took a very small vacation. But that isn’t what’s important…what’s important is that I’m here, and ready to deliver some good news!

Mother titi with babyOver a year ago, we received a grant from LATA (Latin American Travel Association) to release a troop of Squirrel Monkeys (affectionately known as “Titi” monkeys here). We were so thrilled when LATA granted the donation (thank you!), which gave us the ability to collect the information and supplies that we needed to conduct experiments that were absolutely necessary to ensure these orphaned monkeys safe release. We got busy and spent the next few months ensuring the monkeys would survive and thrive after release. Sadly, some did not pass and they will have to live out their lives in our wildlife sanctuary. (But don’t worry, they live in an enclosure that is 180 feet long and 30 feet wide, not to mention 50 feet high, so it is a mini-rainforest!)

Titi monkeys are endangered, and we have always been very sensitive to their treatment. In one of the experiments we did, we mimicked the sound and scent of a dog to see what kind of reaction it caused. When the barking began, most of the titis backed away and began to vocalize back, using their own type of “barking”. Two, Skittles and Clyde, did not vocalize back, but they did move to the front of the shift cage and began attempting to open it. It was all very useful information for us…long story short, after undergoing over 20 experiments of similar types, many were deemed releasable.

Mother and baby titisOnce they were ready for release, the entire sanctuary was on pins and needles since this was such a milestone for us. To our pleasant surprise, the monkeys stuck around the sanctuary, swinging and playing on the outside of cages they had previously been confined in. While we normally encourage animals to venture far from their release site and find the right wild habitat, the Titis had been with us so long that we thought they probably were best off—for now—being free but close. In wildlife release terms, it is considered a soft release.

Soon, we noticed that one of the females was pregnant. Eventually she gave birth, and everything went fine. There have been no problems concerning the baby so far, as she seems to know how to take care of it, and the baby is faring well and is healthy. This is very big news, considering at first we didn’t even know if these monkeys could be released.

Recently, we’ve found out that another female is pregnant, and although we do not know exactly when the baby will be born, or how it will go, we are hopeful. This is very big and unexpected, and I, personally, am so glad it worked out this way. This has been an extremely successful release, so this is a huge step for them.

Overall, this month has been very successful and I am incredibly grateful for the progress we’ve made. If all these factors hadn’t fallen into place the way they did, we wouldn’t have been able to pull this through.

Well, till next time!

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