Heath the howler monkey used to live life as a pet.
Heath arrived at our rescue centre back in April 2016. He had been living his life as a pet, and had picked up many bad habits, such as sitting on people’s heads!
At the age of 4 years old, he was very old to start the rehabilitation program. When the howlers are 1.5 years old, we limit human interaction to only veterinary care, and then start to prepare them for the release process at around 2 – 2.5 years old. This age is considered the optimal age for howlers to detach from humans and start living ‘wild’.
When Heath arrived he was very tame and clingy, he constantly wanted human interaction and would try and hold onto the nearest human in sight! This is troublesome behaviour, particularly as Heath was reaching sexual maturity and should be focusing on female howler monkeys instead.
We decided to put Heath into the same enclosure as a beautiful, fifteen-year-old female howler monkey called Mandy. Heath soon began to realise that female howlers are far more entertaining than boring humans!
As you can see from the photo and video below, Heath absolutely loves his toys! Especially his favourite stuffed monkey! He also enjoys playing with several balls laying around the enclosure, and challenging the other howler monkeys to wrestling matches.
We hope that Heath continues to become more and more independent. However, his life as a pet may mean he will never be suitable for release. It’s still too early to say, but regardless, we will continue to work alongside our partners, Refuge for Wildlife, to help Heath have a fulfilling, healthy life.