Thursday, May 24, 2012

Consequences of the Exotic Pet Trade

            I don’t know how many times I’ve told someone that I study primatology only to hear, “Oh, that’s cool. My friend/aunt/cousin/neighbor/kindergarten teacher/etc had a pet monkey. It lived in his or her house.” It’s happened at least a few times, and I always try exceedingly hard not to cringe when I hear this.
            Primates, like all exotic animals, do not make good pets for a multitude of reasons. Primates have never been domesticated, they are social animals, they are intelligent animals, and they are highly unsuitable as pets. Pet primates often display anxious and repetitive behaviors, deprived of the stimulation they need. They become violent, they become bored, they become lonely and depressed.

  Pet Capuchin
The majority of primates are highly social animals, spending their days entirely with others of their kind. All monkey and ape species live in social groups. Capuchins, a species quite often kept as a pet, live in groups numbering at least in the teens.  They’re the monkeys that are often seen in movies and television. Squirrel monkeys are another popular primate pet choice, and they live in groups of up to sixty-five individuals. Primates need others to groom, to huddle with when cold, to learn social behaviors from, to play with when young, to mate with, to raise offspring with, and to engage in a whole host of other behaviors that can only be provided by group living. Having a pet primate is not the same as having a puppy, where you can leave it at home while you go to work and the worst you fear is a puddle on your carpet. The offspring of common marmosets, one of the more popular primate species kept as a pet in the United States, often stay with their parents for some time after they’ve reached maturity to aid in the raising of other offspring.

Squirrle monkeys live in groups of up to 65 individuals

Infant or juvenile primates taken from their mothers are often highly traumatized. Raised by humans, they do not develop normally. Instead of having that much needed contact with their mother, they are often given blankets, towels, or even stuffed animals to replace this bond. Spider monkeys, a popular pet choice, remain with their mothers for four years in the wild. Primate mothers are often killed for their infants, and the pet dealers will tell you that the mother abandoned her baby. Don’t ever believe it. To acquire one chimpanzee infant, it is estimated that ten adult chimpanzees die in the struggle. 
Once that baby primate starts to grow, chances are it will be much more aggressive. Lack of proper enrichment and lack of proper social stimulation combined with the hopefully now obvious fact that primates are not domesticated creatures will create an antagonistic, anxious, bored animal. Primates typically become destructive. Many have heard the story of the poor woman who was attacked by her friend’s pet chimpanzee. Primates often get aggressive to establish dominance, and they will look to establish dominance over their human owner.
While cute and cuddly, primates are much more intelligent than your average hamster.  Capuchins, one of the most common victims of the exotic pet trade, are one of the most intelligent monkeys. While you may look at this primate and exclaim how cute it is, this is the same animal that has shown sophisticated tool use. Juvenile capuchins will hone their skills for years to master the art of cracking nuts open. They use multiple, specific rocks that can weigh as much as the capuchin wielding it.  Certain species of primates have the ability to count, to intentionally deceive other group members, and to recognize themselves in a mirror.  Giving a primate a few squeaky toys from PetSmart will not provide much needed stimulation.
Primates are our closest relatives, which may partially fuel the desire to keep one as a pet. This creates yet another problem. Many of the diseases primates can contract humans can also contract, and vice versa. For example, an estimated 80-90 percent of all macaques are carriers of Herpes B virus, which can be deadly. The virus sheds at certain times but is often without symptoms and a simple scratch or sneeze can transfer the virus. 

This woman has five pet macaques.

Primates aren’t the only animals taken from the wild to become someone’s pet. Exotic reptiles, birds, and even large cats such as lions and tigers are kept as pets. If owners want to give these animals up, they must hope that a zoo or an animal refuge has the space, and refuges are increasingly becoming crowded. In foreign countries, the people who often staff these refuges have little to no knowledge on animal husbandry, resulting in an awful diet, no enrichment, and tiny cages. Happy endings are rare.
You can help the problem in large ways or in small ways. Don’t buy a primate for starters. Donate to animal refuges or volunteer your time if you happen to live near one. Educate others about the exotic pet trade. If applicable, make sure your exotic birds or reptiles come from breeders and aren’t wild-caught.  Support legislation that makes owning or importing exotic pets illegal. Read more about the issue. It bears repeating: don't keep a primate as a pet.
Further Reading:

This post is dedicated to a wonderful squirrle monkey Ashley and I cared for for a few weeks. He was a victim of the pet trade, and he died a few weeks ago. His death was entirely preventable.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Day in the LIfe (Of a Titi Monkey Field Assistant)

5:00am            I awake feeling grogy and tired. First I put on my field cloths, they smell from the day before and they have little bits of plant stuck on them and are sticky from my mosquito repellant.
                        Next I pack my day bag: Binoculars-check,   Temperature gauge-check, Mosquito repellant-check, Water bottle? I can´t remember where I put it-hopefully it´s in the kitchen, Hat and bandanna-check,  Food for the day- will make now.

5:15am            I head to the kitchen where the other field assistant (Kate) is eating happily. She is a morning person and thus has already packed her bag (lunch included) and is checking her E-mail already. I make my oatmeal and scrounge for something to eat for lunch. As I forgot to go shopping yesterday my options are bleak- cold oatmeal or a bun with marmalade. I opt for the latter and grab an apple as well- the same apple that has come and gone with me to the field for 3 days- I am trying to be healthy but failing miserably.

5:45am            We meet Pepe our morning taxi driver and start the half hour journey to the field site. Along the way there are many quick pulses, held breaths and long sighs- but we always arrive at the field safe and sound, albeit, many near death experiences later. Driving in Santa Cruz is an experiment in social behavior (of humans) where there are no lights, stop signs or laws. Add this to the fact that very few cars have working seatbelts and it is akin to social suicide to wear one.

6:30am            We are at the field, Yvaga Guazu, have signed in and are in our respective territories (each field assistant is assigned a territory and a family of Titi monkeys to work with-sometimes 2 groups). I have been looking for my monkeys for about 15 minutes at this point. I do this by treading lightly, and stopping frequently to listen to the rustle of canopy which would indicate movement. I have gotten to the point where I can hear a single leaf falling from a distance of 10 meters- not even exaggerating. If it is windy or raining this becomes extremely difficult and it´s more likely you will find them based on knowledge of sleeping trees, food trees, movement patterns or just plain luck.

7:41am            I have just found my secretive monkeys. Yes it has taken me over an hour, sometimes this happens as my territory is big and they are extremely quite. It is also windy which makes their movement inaudible. As I am watching one of the babies a short distance away, a large steaming turd lands on my data sheet. Actually it was a tiny titi turd, but the point is every day they try to pee or defecate on me. But the joke is on them because I need to collect fecal samples, they have just made my job much easier. I put the sample into a small container which I will add alcohol to later.

8:50am            I have been with my titi family for over an hour taking as much data as I can. I have mostly witnessed resting and feeding (they are feeing on vine flowers and little green fruits). The babies have been very inquisitive of me, tilting their heads from side to side while starring. Sometimes they come very close and watch me, and then they run away like giggling school children. I also have some data on calling. I have noticed that they call a few times in the mornings so far, the male and female mostly, but the sub-adults and babies chime in from time to time as well. Sometimes they are all in one tree but often the sub-adults are in a tree over and the babies take this time to be rambunctious and run around wildly.

9:15am            I have just lost the group as they headed into an area that I cannot get through. I make a mental note to get the machete tomorrow to clear some more areas so I can follow them and also see them better. I wait where I am but still nothing, so I try to approach to where I think they have gotten from a different path. Along my way I see a crazy site-traumatizing actually. I see about 100 centipedes all together in one ball and moving as if they were one entity- I wish I had a camera with me.

9:45am            Still nothing, but I have discovered that a 3 toed sloth is living in a tree that I always sit under while writing my notes. I have named her Beatrice and she is fun to watch- I secretly wish I were making notes on her as she could never evade me.

10:00am           I meet up with Kate to eat my cold bun and watch enviously as she eats her Oreo cookies. We collect some bugs- grasshoppers and stick bugs mostly- to give to the baby squirrel monkey that is a recent addition to the rescue sanctuary at the fringe of the field site. We have named him Snatch Adams- Snatch on account of his bug catching abilities and Adams on account of the movie.

11:00am          I have been wandering around aimlessly for about a half hour, again looking for my monkeys. I hear the rustling of leaves and follow the sounds for quite a while. When I am finally able to see the monkeys I see that they are not in fact monkeys, but squirrels- I have been following a family of squirrels-great.

11:30am          I finally find my monkeys again, pure luck I believe, for I bent down to tie my shoe and looked up and there they were above me, making not a peep but creeping along the vines hoping not be seen. I feel somewhat like a stalker but they will get used to me soon enough. My mind wanders and I think about new names for them. Sneaky- because they always evade me, Cheeky- because they think it´s funny to defecate on me, and leaky- well that one speaks for itself I think.

12:30am            I have been watching them for an hour or so, this time they are locomoting quite a lot, and I do my best to stay with them while not making them think I am stalking them. I stay back and then follow at a safe distance. Finally they settle in a favorite area where they can rest and feed. I see the male catch an insect-not quite sure what it is-but it had long legs- it is probably a type of grasshopper. I have a great view and see him crunch down hard. He chokes twice and regurgitates the leg-the second time chewing more carefully.

1:00pm            Kate and I are on a micro on our way back to the house. It is very hot and we are standing with our heads bent at unnatural angles; the micros are not made for anyone with a stature over 5ft. We are packed in like sardines and I am feeling self conscious of my stinking and dirty field cloths and am pretty sure I have a bug in my hair. Usually we begin by standing but we are scalpers and as soon as anyone remotely looks like they are going to get off we rush over to steal their seat. We take two micros to get back which takes about 40 mins, and then we walk the last 10 mins. If we are feeling especially hot, wet or irritable we will take a taxi, but the cost is about 10 times more.

4:00pm            We awake bleary eyed and content after a nice long nap. We had arrived home, showered and passed out, which is a usual occurrence. Now we are lying by the pool enjoying the sun.

5:30pm            We just arrived back to the house from the Hipermaxi, which is the local supermarket. We have bough many things exclaiming that it was more expensive than last time- 120 Bolivianos- how could we have spent this much? But then we remember that 120 Bs is only $23 USD, and really three full bags of groceries including a bottle of wine, that’s not bad at all.

6:00pm            We put in some computer time, where we are making a plant database with photos and descriptions of plants eaten and used in other ways by the titis. We are also looking at all of the google docs and how to put in our data collection properly (which we will begin shortly) but we are allowed some time to practice so the data will be usable.

7:00pm            I contemplate riding the stationary bike but opt instead to watch a film, of which there are many. We watch ¨The Help¨, which is very good. It catalyzes a long political discussion, also,of which there are many.

9:00pm            We head to our room to read and chill out before dozing off. We will wake again at 5am and repeat the cycle for 5 days before the weekend of debauchery begins. Actually there is little debauchery but a lot of nice communal dinners, dancing, and plaza wandering.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Feeding Ecology

     Understanding diet is an essential part of understanding primates. Whether they are eating leaves, fruit, bark, ingesting medicinal plants, or just using twigs as a toothbrush, knowledge of plant use is essential. As someone who is greatly interested in diet and nutrition, I was really excited for the plant course that Yuvy and Kim put together for us today.             
         We headed into the field late (eight o’clock in the morning is quite late for field work) with a local botanist to learn about the fruits, flowers, and leaves we had seen the monkeys feeding on. Our local guide, Juan Carlos Catari, stated before he began that his English was very bad, yet later this same day he used the word “polymorphic” correctly, so clearly his English was excellent. Very little had to be translated.
           The course started with a bit an overview. Can you explain the difference between a tree and a shrub? Ashley and I couldn’t quite do it succinctly either. The first thing I learned that day is that a tree has a primary trunk and a shrub has multiple trunks. It’s a simple enough concept, but one I honestly didn’t know. We went over some tropical ecology such as how epiphytes get nutrients, and the different types forms of life; tree, shrub, and crawler and where they live; terrestrial or aquatic.
            After an overview, we showed Juan Carlos the items the monkeys had been feeding on. We trekked through the forest to find the plants we’d been keeping track of these past few weeks, and we clipped multiple branches to take back with us. It wasn’t always easy. At one point I was stretching myself as long as I could as I perched precariously on Ashley’s back to get a sample from a ficus tree. We learned how to take samples from the plants, how to identify certain plant families, and how to prepare and dry out plant samples properly.
            Our course was only four hours long, and clearly we only touched on very little of tropical plant ecology. It was definitely worth giving up a day off for a day of studying plants. Juan Carlos was very knowledgeable, a good teacher, and, most importantly, he had a sense of humor. Juan was also very adept at climbing and scurrying up trees. I felt tired just watching him.
            I think future titi monkey research assistants can look forward to learning about the forest the titis inhabit, as the day was generally seen as a success. It might have to become a staple of the project.

 Flowers consumed by G5

Ripe (yellow) and unripe (green) fruits consumed by G2

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Titi Monkey Fieldwork

Titi Monkey Fieldwork is for you IF….

You don’t mind staring at treetops until your neck hurts
You don’t mind hanging out in the forest alone
You’re okay with spending a day looking for your monkeys and never finding them
The idea of destroying jungle with a machete excites you
Waking up before sun-up isn’t a problem
You find the silence of the forest relaxing
You have a good cultural understanding and are comfortable communicating even if you don’t speak the language
You’re comfortable with a spontaneous shift of plans
You enjoy living with a group of diverse people
Making homemade lemonade from lemons growing by your room entices you
Afternoons lying by the pool sounds wonderful
You have a passion for dance
You like it tight and bright
You are just as comfortable in hiking boots as high heels

Fieldwork is NOT for you if…

You’re afraid of bugs
Or snakes
You’re allergic to DEET
You’re a couch potato: seriously, you need to be in shape for this
You can’t work well with others
You have a phobia of being alone for extended periods of time
You stress when something doesn’t go your way
You get upset because it’s raining
You can’t handle waiting for people who have a difference sense of time. For example, taxi drivers not showing up, late field assistants, etc
You mind getting sweaty and dirty
You need to style your hair every day

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rookie Mistake

As I was chatting with Leanna at lunch the other day, a thought occurred to me: my female very rarely nurses.

“Hey Leanna,” I asked, “How often does your female nurse the baby?”

“Oh, I see her nursing once or twice a day” she replied.

Huh… That got me thinking.

We started talking about what Leanna’s female looks like when she’s nursing – baby in the front, back kind of arched, arms elevated a bit, face often looking down at the baby. Huh… That’s exactly what Pedro looks like when he’s holding the baby… You can see where this is going.

Did I really mix up an adult female monkey with a sub-adult male? Could I really be that dumb? So, we started discussing reasons why I could be right and reasons why I could be wrong. (In order to avoid confusion, the monkeys I refer to here as Pedro and Elena are those that I have been calling Pedro and Elena for the last two and a half months - although in reality, they may be switched).

In order to try and find out if I had made a mistake, I reread some of the previous blogs written about my monkey family. “Elena often decides when the group will move on and leads the way”. Well for me, this is usually Pedro’s role. “Pedro and Denito play while Elena and Vicente take care of all vocalizing matters”. This season however, I was finding that Pedro had been helping Vicente vocalize while Elena played with Denito. My investigation was just leading me to think more and more that I was wrong. The main thing holding me back was that Elena was noted as the most endearing and curious monkey with much more apathy towards humans. My Elena is definitely the most curious, she comes closer to me than all the others, and she is my favorite to watch. Pedro on the other hand, when he is not with his dad, is usually off on his own, far away from me. Out of all my monkeys, I feel like I am the least drawn to Pedro. He just isn’t quite as charming as the others (don’t tell him I said that!!! I still love him!!!...err her?).

The monkey I have been referring to as Elena

The monkey I have been referring to as Pedro

As a result of my continued confusion, my after-lunch goal was to take a look at their monkey “bits”, as Kim says. After all, they are supposed to be two different sexes. I returned to my group and found them resting in a sneaky spot. The good news is that they let me get pretty close. I got a good view of Elena and tried to snap some pictures to get a second opinion (yes, I now have photos of monkey bits on my hard drive, all in the name of science). Unfortunately, with my point-and-shoot, the pictures were nearly useless. I was pretty sure though, that this monkey was a female.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “How can she be having a hard time telling the difference between a male and a female? Shouldn’t the male be pretty obvious?” Again, using the words of my boss, the “male bits are unimpressive”. As Titi monkeys form monogamous pair bonds, impressive male bits are not as necessary as they would be in other polygynous relationships.

Tentative conclusion thus far: either I was right, or Pedro is actually Pedra. This idea was also mentioned by a previous GE researcher, so my mystery could be solved.

The next time I had a chance to see my monkeys, I brought my fellow researcher Chantelle with me. She has seen some pretty clear bits from Vanesito, and she has a better camera than I. This time, we got a decent view of both Pedro and Elena. In our amateur opinions, they are both females. Final thoughts: I mixed up my sub-adult and female, and my sub-adult is actually a girl. This situation will sure make for an exciting DNA analysis in the future. Good thing I have lots of poop samples!

Of course, being the absolute perfectionist/worry wart that I am, I panicked. Thoughts raced through my mind of me screwing up the entire analysis of my monkeys for this season. Holy cow! Once I calmed down and came to my senses, I realized that even if I am wrong, it isn’t too big of a deal. The two monkeys are unmistakable (once you know them), and I definitely took accurate data distinguishing between the two throughout my time here. So, if I was wrong, I simply have to change every F (for female) in my data, to an S (for sub-adult), and vice-versa. Thus, the only thing that was harmed with this possible mistake is my ego. Plus, because I have no job when I am done here, I will have lots of extra time to edit my data! Chalk it up to a rookie mistake…

Saturday, October 29, 2011

GN: The Prodigal Son

The day started off relatively normal.  GN’s male and female vocalized, as usual, towards GE, and then advanced across the fence of Yvaga Guazu.  This has become the typical morning routine.  Wake up…talk a little bit with the neighbors…maybe eat a Lauraceae fruit or two…then head off to where Leanna can’t follow.  So they lost me right around 7:30 AM.  Only 15 minutes later, my male, female, and juvenile all came back into Yvaga Guazu and moved towards one of their favorite resting trees (dubbed Lazy Tree #1).  Seemed a little soon to be back in the park, but these monkeys are always throwing me for a loop.  At 7:55, only ten minutes after arriving back within view, a strange monkey approached the group.  Now, we’ve encountered strange monkeys before, but we have NEVER encountered strange monkeys here.  All the other titis tend to stay towards the back of the park in the more forested area (minus GE), whereas this individual approached from the exact opposite direction.  At first, my female merely arched her back, but then she chased the strange monkey at full speed to a tree about 50 m away, with the male and juvenile following close behind.  By the time I got to this new tree, all four monkeys (male, female, juvenile, plus the stranger) were all sitting in close proximity and showing no aggressive behavior.  Weird.  Since just like ten seconds ago I was witnessing the titi equivalent to a high-speed chase.  I’ve honestly never seen my monkey family run so fast.  About a minute or so later, the group of four made their way back towards Lazy Tree #1 to rest.  At 8:10 AM, all four were tail twined.  It was at this point that I realized this strange monkey had to be one of GN’s subadults.  Why else would the group dynamic change so quickly?  There’s no way a total stranger would be accepted into a quadruple tail twine in such a short time period.  So if this is one of my GN subadults (most likely the younger of the two older offspring, 3 year old Jasy), which I really believe it is, how/why was he on the other side of the fence?  My normal family – male/female/juvenile – crosses that fence almost every day, and not once have I seen this other monkey nearby.  The only times I have seen the two older brothers, I was in the back of GN territory, which is the complete other extreme to Lazy Tree #1.  Also, why did the female react aggressively at first?  Was she just caught off guard by the unexpected approach or did she not even recognize him? 

Around 8:30 AM, all four were resting close, but nobody seemed very relaxed.  You could cut that monkey tension with a knife.  Occasionally the subadult would move away temporarily, and the juvenile would follow him.  The juvenile would then spend the next few minutes going back and forth between the subadult and the male, as if he was unsure whom he was supposed to sit by or where he was supposed to go.  It was during one of these momentary family separations that the juvenile, who was carrying the infant, moved towards the subadult and passed off GN’s newest addition to his older brother.  Even further confirmation that this was, indeed, a member of the GN family.  The subadult carried the infant for only a minute or so before bringing it back to the male.  The notes from my field book accurately describe the situation as an “awkward family reunion.”

At 9:00 AM, completely out of the blue, my male and subadult began to fight.  The male chased the subadult all throughout Lazy Tree #1 and then across the fence to a group of taller trees.  The female followed closely, arching her back as the male and subadult battled it out relatively high in the canopy.  The brawl was momentarily suspended when the subadult fell out of the tree FROM LIKE 15 METERS UP.  Needless to say I was sure I had a monkey carcass on my hands.  A brief, but triumphant Type 1 vocalization from the male and female, and then they made their way back to the lazy tree.  The subadult followed.  More fighting from the male and subadult – hitting, tail pulling, etc. – and a little more chasing, but each time the male tried to call it quits, the subadult would follow.  After about 10 minutes, the whole group was back to resting.  Just like that.  The male, female, and juvenile all tail twined, with the subadult only 5 m away.   An approach by the subadult, now touching the juvenile, but no aggression from either party.

9:20 AM.  Ten whole minutes of hostile-free behavior.  Subadult approached and initiated a quadruple tail twine.  No big deal right?  They totally did that earlier.  Well this time the male was not having it….at all.  Just seconds after the twine, the male once again chased the subadult across the road towards the taller trees, once again they fought, and once again the subadult followed the male back to Lazy Tree #1.  The subadult then tried to fight the female, but the male intervened.  Good for you!  Defending your lady’s honor.  Fighting, chasing, fighting, chasing, fighting, and then they were done.  At 9:25 AM, the subadult slowly moved near the male and female, to within about 1 m of the duo.  Then it got weird. 
            9:26 Subadult slowly laid down on the branch at the feet of the male/female
            9:27 Subadult arched his back and squeaked at the male/female
            9:28 Subadult slowly laid down, again right at the feet of the male/female
            9:29 Subadult arched back
            9:30 Subadult slowly laid down
9:31 Subadult arched back
            9:32 Subadult slowly laid down
What is this?  Is he showing aggression and then immediately performing submissive behavior?  Whatever it was, it was repeated multiple times.  The family then rested for another 20 minutes, with the subadult tail twined with the juvenile.  Speaking of the juvenile, during each of these “instances,” he hightailed it out of there.  Probably his best bet.  Definitely don’t want to get in the middle of that family drama.  It was also during this 9:20 encounter that my female injured one of her front feet.  She spent the next half hour limping through the branches, struggling to keep close to her man. 

As 10:13 AM rolled around, I witnessed a third chase scene from GN’s male and subadult, who again ran to the taller trees across the road.  The female did not follow this time, most likely due to her wounded foot.  The male returned, with the subadult behind at a reasonable distance.  This seems to be a trend. 

10:27 AM another male/subadult chase performance.  This time, however, they remained in the lazy tree.  Guess it’s not so lazy anymore.  The female also got in on the action, fighting with the subadult.  Hand-to-hand titi combat at its most intense.  The female and subadult then fell off of their branch, momentarily catching themselves on a large limb, before falling the rest of the way to the ground.  My male was freaking out.  He immediately descended the tree, calling to the female, and waiting for a response.  A few seconds later, the female and subadult came racing up a nearby tree, where the male took over chasing duty from the female.  The male held the subadult in a monkey headlock for about 30 seconds before releasing him and returning to, and then tail twining with, the female.  Another few repetitions of the subadult arched back/slow lay down routine, and then at 10:37 AM, the subadult approached the male and female and remained in close proximity. 

A few minutes later, the juvenile returned.  And all four rested, tail twined, and most likely napped for the rest of the morning.  I mean seriously…these monkeys had to be exhausted.  Their normal schedule calls for mid-morning naps even without multiple scuffles, so I imagine even after I left them around 12:30, they remained on that branch for a few more hours. 

Moral of the story: not every prodigal son is welcomed with a fatted calf. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Real Titiwives of G5

Cramped into the back corner of Yvaga Guazu is the atypical titi family, G5. My name is Shannon and I'd like to introduce you to Picaflor, Caysita, Veronica, Jack, and their two little bundles of joy, Kim and Chang. Yes, I did say TWO bundles, and no they aren't twins.

*dun dun dun. Insert dramatic organ music*

And who exactly is wearing the pants in this group? Let's take a look at the matriarch, Caysita.

Caysita is easily identified by her dark face and the very dark grey color and slicked-straight look of her tail.

She's a fairly independent woman that regularly initiates duets, often takes the lead on moving camp, and likes her space. Though preferring to leave the parental care to the male, like other Titi housewives, Caysita has been seen carrying the smaller infant, Chang, more and more. However she outright runs from her own baby, Kim, when she tries to hitch a ride.

Bueno, let's move onto dad, meet Picaflor.

Now, I'm not one to judge the promiscuous ways other primate societies, but you should at least be a member of one of them if you are going to engage in that kind of behavior. That said, you have to feel for the guy when you see him lugging his two tots around. And it is Picaflor who is carrying them most of the time. I've seen the others take turns carrying one or the other infant, but the majority of the time they're with daddy.

Onto Veronica, the other woman.
Veronica is a grey female with a rounded tail.

Despite the scandalous circumstances, Veronica is quite unobtrusive most of the time. She also helps carry the infants, though she is quick to complain (whining, squeaking, twisting, and pulling at the infant on her back). Veronica also seems to take her cues to nurse from Caysita, often nursing the smaller infant right after Caysita takes the larger infant. I have not yet seen Veronica duet alone with Picaflor, Caysita continues to fulfill this role. Veronica will vocalize with the group, and even duetted with the subadult, Jack. At one point during some long, confrontational vocalization bouts with G4, Veronica disappeared, heading off towards another pair of duetting monkeys. Perhaps looking for greener grasses already?

Next we have Jack, the subadult of Picaflor and Caysita.

Jack seems to be your typical titi son - helps with the duetting, sometimes takes on solos or continues vocalizations with one of the females if the male is not around or has stopped. He continues to stick close to the group, often trying to keep up with Caysita who moves further ahead to feed or find a shady place to rest. Jack is also one of the more vigilant individuals of the group, making it difficult for us monkey paparazzi!

Lastly, the cutie patooties!


Already climbing and playing in the lianas, Kim has earned a few bumps from falling out of a tree (4m up). Though this hasn't deterred her one iota and she continues to gallivant during resting and feeding times. Kim has been exhibiting much more feeding behavior recently - pulling at plants, biting stems and leaves.

And Chang

Still quite small, enough that I frequently need to use binoculars to see who is carrying him when the group is high up in the canopy. I'm already seeing some sibling rivalry with Kim- a couple of times Chang has climbed onto Kim while both are on Picaflor's back. Though Caysita or Veronica will carry Chang, and I'm seeing Kim get around on her own during resting and feeding times. Can't wait to see what happens when we have two juveniles terrorizing the family - " But dad, Chang alwaaaaaaays get the branches with the most fruit!!!"