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The Tale of a Titi Monkey

By Pia Martin, DVM

Right after his surgery

Titi monkeys (saimiri oerstedii citrinellus) are small but very intelligent and dexterous.  They are unique to the Manuel Antonio area.

Last august, some kids were visiting Playa El Rey in the National Park and found a very young monkey on the ground, he was hurt and couldn’t move. They felt sorry for the little guy and carefully picked him up and put him in a box. They took him to MINAET not knowing what else to do. MINAET brought him to us. The little titi was about 6 months old and had a very serious fracture in his arm and another in his clavicle. He could have fallen from a very tall tree just when he was learning to move on his own.

These kids saved his life; he would have been eaten by a predator or would have died alone of hunger.

Kids Saving the Rainforest Logo

We admitted him into the KSTR Rescue Clinic and started hydrating him and giving him medicine for the pain. He quickly recovered his natural disposition and was a very energetic young boy! We decided that his best chance for survival and a successful release would be to do surgery on him. We needed to place 2 intra medullar pins (as thick as a match) inside his humerus (upper arm) with some very sophisticated equipment and the help of the orthopedist veterinarian, Randall Arguedas. Randall came all the way from San José just to help!

The surgery was a success! The bones were aligned and we tried to monkey-proof his arm so that he wouldn’t be curious and touch any pins or suture material! We wrapped it and placed him in a special cage so that he would recover from the surgery and rest.

Our main concern was that he would get too stressed in captivity, due to missing his family, his forest and his liberty; so we decorated that cage with branches, leaves, a hiding box, a dish with water, another one with really nice food and several worms. We needed to give him his medicines and clean the wound daily, but otherwise he needed to stay calm, eat, and heal.

Just prior to his release.

It took 2 months for the bones to heal, but when they did they were perfect! We very carefully removed both pins and started giving him physical therapy. Slowly he started moving his arm again, every day gaining more confidence. As he exercised it he developed his muscles again and he started climbing more and more.

It took another 2 months but his ability to move through branches and trees was enormous. He was ready to be released!

It was a Saturday morning when the MINAET wildlife expert took him back to the rainforest. First, we needed to find his troop. Each troop has their own unique call (like a language) and they have a good sense of smell and memory. When we found the troop, our little guy seemed nervous but as soon as he heard his mates call he responded! They all became very curious as to where the call was coming from. They got closer and the titi was eager to leave. We opened the carrier’s door and out he went! He looked back for a second and then scampered off with his troop!


2 Responses to “The Tale of a Titi Monkey”

  1. Clare said:

    Hey guys, super sweet story! But wrong on one important count: your little guy is a squirrel monkey not a titi monkey. Cary on with your good work! http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/photos/monkeys/#/squirrel-monkey_6457_600x450.jpg


  2. Paul said:

    Hi Clare, you’re right. Titi’s are a type of squirrel monkey (saimiri oerstedii citrinellus). They are very endangered & found only in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area.


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