Recently, we received two white faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) after being confiscated by the MINAE (Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia) from two separate owners. They were living horrible lives, a 4-year-old male trapped inside of a box with little to no sunlight and slits just barely big enough for the poor animal to stick its hands through. As a result of his captivity, his body emaciated and he is missing the tips of his fingers most likely from trying to free himself. Light scares him, because until now his world was dark. He has also developed several nervous ticks. We received a younger female as well, with conditions somewhat better, being able to climb trees while being attached to a leash.
It should go without saying that wild animals are not pets! While very cute and innocent as babies, people often fail to remember that these animals grow up, and their wild instincts kick in. They then go from the adorable baby monkey seen as the family pet to a wild animal that can no longer be handled. This is when the animal’s life turns for the worst. Since they are no longer “cute and cuddly” they are tied up or put in a cage. Occasionally given food and forced to suppress their wild instincts.
We now have the fate of these poor monkeys in our hands. Luckily for them, the odds are now in their favor. Our first goal is to build trust, often animals kept as pets come to us expressing a lot of aggression towards humans. This is due to the fact that humans are the ones who capture them and keep them caged or tied up.
Once we have gained some of their trust we can begin taking them to the forest. This is where they are learning to become monkeys again. They are no longer confined or contained, they are free to explore until their heart is content. There are three very important behaviors we look for before the monkey’s release. They need to know how to socialize and interact, being an extremely social species. They also need to know how to find their own food and have the ability to navigate the trees with ease. Once they exhibit these three behaviors they will be ready for their wild life.