This post is written by Houston Zoo primate keeper, Helen Boostrom, who is in Belize right now. She is being supported by the staff conservation fund to do field work with Howler Monkeys in Belize. Please go here to learn more about the staff conservation fund. We will post these updates of Helen’s work as we get them, so stay tuned!
Meet Agatha, Bonnie, and Clyde. Three endangered black howler monkeys that have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild after having been confiscated from the pet trade. Black howler monkeys can be found in parts of Belize and Mexico but are becoming more rare. A major problem is the illegal pet trade which takes baby howlers from their mother often resulting in her injury or death. These howlers are then kept alone in small cages with little opportunity to climb and socialize with other howlers as well as being given diets lacking in the leaves that they would normally consume in the forest.
Primate keepers from the Houston Zoo are currently in Belize helping observe these howler monkey at the fireburn reserve where they have been released. The howlers behavior, food sources, and movement are being tracked to monitor their progress adapting to life in the forest. This information can then be used to modify current rehabilitation protocols to increase the success of the program. Keepers are working with Wildtracks which manages the howler rehabilitation and release program in cooperation with the belizean government.
Please stay tuned for more from Primate keeper, Helen Boostrom.