About two weeks ago here at The Colobus Trust we got a call about an injured monkey. The caller explained that a ‘small brown monkey’ had been seen around the hotel that was totally unable to use its back legs. He was one elusive disabled monkey; it took us over half an hour to find him. This was our first encounter with sad Edwardo. A 5-month-old vervet monkey, with the biggest frown I’ve ever seen, who was totally unable to move his body from his legs down.
The only the way he could have survived as long as he has is because of his mother’s care. But soon he would be too big for her milk, or to be carried around. Although vervets are mostly terrestrial during the day, at night they will find trees to sleep in to protect themselves from predators and sometimes eat the leaves from high branches. There is no way Edwardo could climb a tree by himself.
So, out came the net and Edwardo’s frown grew. It’s awful taking a wild animal away from its mother. Especially these two, as due to Edwardo’s condition they would be especially close. As soon as the net went down the mother went mad. We had to keep her away with sticks and shouts while she followed us, howling, all the way to the truck. Monkeys will often mourn the loss of family members and even carry around dead infants for days before they will let go. I am sure Edwardo’s mother would have been no different. However, we hope to be able to reunite a happy, healthy Edwardo with a forlorn mother soon.
Once we had captured him we took him straight to the vet to see if he thought Edwardo had a chance of recovery. He concluded that Edwardo had a slipped disc in his spine and an infected cut on his tail, but with steroids and antibiotics, he could recover in a couple weeks. Edwardo did not struggle too much at the vets; he just frowned. Just as if he’d expected all this to happen. As if he knew suffering to be his lot in life, and all he had to do was wait it out.
The next morning Edwardo had his first treatment back at the Colobus Cottage. Once we had given him his injections and disinfected his wounds, one of our volunteers thought of physiotherapy. This has worked a charm. After only 3 days he could limp across his cage, rather than drag himself. His right leg is improving now, his left is much stronger and he has even begun to struggle with his back legs as well as frown! We have moved him to a bigger cage, so he can climb branches and test out his newly functioning legs.
Now, if only we could improve that frown…