Yesterday we introduced Betsy to Felice for some monkey play time!
Felice is a one year old male Sykes monkey, who came to the Colobus Trust in March 2010 after being orphaned when his mother was electrocuted. He was hand raised in the house by the volunteers, just like Betsy. For much of the last year Felice has been living in the rehabilitation enclosures with 10 other vervet and Sykes monkeys.
In the Diani Forest, Colobus monkeys most commonly associate with Sykes monkeys and the youngsters can spend many happy hours running through the trees playing. Since we do not have any other captive Colobus monkeys at the Trust and given Felice’s background combined with his continued dependence on humans and that he is around the same size as Betsy, it was decided he was the best choice for a playmate.
Felice was removed from the main enclosure and placed in one of our rescue crates; the crate was moved and put into our bushbaby enclosure, which is situated away from all the other monkeys and therefore limited interference from them. Betsy and I then climbed into the bushbaby enclosure and the doors were locked behind us. For the first 10 minutes Betsy moved around the enclosure by herself and we were able to assess the response of Betsy to Felice and Felice to Betsy – they spent much of the time cooing at each other through the mesh. When we were satisfied that there was no signs of aggression between them I opened the crate door and let them meet.
There was not a lot of contact between the two monkeys, Felice tried on a many occasions to groom Betsy, but Betsy ran away after a few seconds, and when Felice wasn’t looking Betsy would reach out and quickly stroke her tail or back but would run away when Felice turned to interact. However, the monkey’s communicated on other levels, they continued to coo at one another and had several incidents of non threatening eye contact.
After around 40 minutes I opened up the crate door and Felice quickly entered (probably due to the piece of mango in there) and he was returned to the vervets and Sykes in the rehabilitation enclosure without any adverse effects. Within 10 minutes of leaving the enclosure Betsy was fast asleep, apparently exhausted from the mornings excitement.
There next meeting will occur in a few days time and my aim is to observe from the outside this time rather than be part of the interaction.