On Saturday 5th July we were called with news of an injured colobus at Baobab Resort. We packed up the gear, nets and all, and rushed over to where the monkey had been sighted. Much to our surprise, when we got there we did not find an injured Colobus, but in fact found a tiny baby Sykes monkey, which had been abandoned by its mother.
The initial check showed that the baby, which looked to be about 2 weeks old, still had the umbilical cord and amniotic sack still attached, and had a large clump of fly eggs on its back indicating that it had not been being groomed by its mother. We checked around but could not find the mother anywhere. The level of dehydration indicated that the baby had been away from it’s mother for at least 1 day if not more, and it was evident that the mother was not going to return for it.
When we got back to the animal welfare clinic we cleaned the baby monkey, and gave her a physical check. The baby was found to be a baby girl, and apart from being dehydrated, and having a small graze its right cheek, it had no other injuries. She was then given a glucose mix, which she drank quickly, and was then wrapped up and allowed to sleep.
As the Colobus Trust does not normally hand-rear abandoned monkeys, a local woman Kirsten was contacted. Kirsten has many years experience in hand rearing a range of different monkey species including Sykes monkeys, and said she would be happy to take her, but it would have to be the following week. As a lot of care is needed for such a young animal I volunteered to act as the monkeys ‘Surrogate mother’.
Scientifically, as Toto’s situation was due to natural circumstances, and not because of human impact, we should probably have left the baby monkey where she was and let nature take its course. However, the hotel wanted the baby removed so as not to disturb its guests, and knowing that Kirsten would take her in, we decided this was the most humane thing to do. As with most cases of hand-reared animals, it is likely that the baby monkey will become habituated and therefore will never be able to be released.
In most rescue cases the monkeys care for at the Trust are not given names. However we realised that as we would be caring for her continuously we needed to call her something. One of the staff members referred to the baby monkey as Toto, as it is the Swahili word for baby, and we decided that this was a good name for such a tiny little creature.
Toto moved onto baby milk later that night and continued to do well. I sat up with her to make sure she was eating and sleeping ok. At 4 am it was obvious that she was doing fine, so I wrapped her up in her blanket, and we went to bed. She slept in the bed happily, and during the night decided that the most comfortable position was to lie along my collar bone.
The following days Toto continued to do well, doing all the things a baby monkey should do, except by the end of day 2, I realised she hadn’t pooed yet. We rang Kirsten and she suggested we tried feeding her grapes. We did as instructed, and not only did Toto love them, but her constipation was soon relieved. She was obviously a lot more comfortable, and was now becoming a very lively and happy little Sykes.
Since she was rescued Toto’s strength has continued to improve and she is becoming more inquisitive and playful every day. Although I will miss looking after her, I know that Toto will do well with Kirsten and she will enjoy having other baby monkeys to play with.
Emma Shepheard – Walwyn