I got to work with Howler Monkeys in Belize! By Primate Keeper, Rachel Vass

The Houston Zoo’s Primate keepers, Rachel Voss  and Helen Boostrom recieved funds from  the Houston Zoo Staff Conservation Fund to go to Belize to participate in conservation research at a rehabilitation facility called Wildtracks.

The Wildtracks wildlife rehabilitation center is located in the north east corner of Belize outside Sarteneja on the shore of the Corozal Bay.  This is the same region where the care, rehabilitation, and pre-release of the black howler monkeys is occurring; the final release site for the howler monkeys is slightly to the southeast in the Fireburn Reserve, which is managed by Wildtracks.  Black howler monkeys have not been living wild in this area since the 1940’s (personal communication. Paul Walker, Wildtracks); although they have not recently been native to the northern part of Belize, they did historically inhabit this area, and chances for successful rehabilitation and release in this region are very promising.  


The following is the beginning of Rachel’s experience at Wildtracks.

 “When I was in Belize I spent most of my time at the Wildtracks headquarters doing a lot of animal care and other husbandry based tasks with the animals they have there (ie: socializing the monkeys, cleaning, feeding them, making enrichment, propping enclosures, and building new enclosures).  They have a total of 9 primates at Wildtracks right now, 8 Black Howler Monkeys and 1 Black Handed Spider Monkey.  Dudley, a 5 year old Howler monkey (who was supposed to be released with the group Helen blogged about- Agatha, Bonnie, and Clyde), broke his leg while in the pre-release enclosure and had to be kept back at headquarters until he healed completely.  He is well on his way to being back to 100% and will hopefully be moving back into the pre-release area within the next couple of weeks; he is moving around wonderfully and has healed quicker and beyond what anyone thought he would, you can hardly tell anything ever happened to him!  There are two other groups of Howlers that are in the rehabilitation process and will be the next to move to the pre-release area;  Minnie and Moe (two females) both around a year old and Eden, Kofi, and Igor (two females and a male) who are all around 18 months old.”   – Primate keeper, Rachel Vass

Stay tuned for more of Rachel’s adventures in blogs to come!  To read about Helen’s adventures at Wildtracks click here or scroll down.

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