28 April 2011
The team at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre were over the moon when blue monkey Maggie decided to take in orphan Max. Maggie is the only female blue monkey at the Centre so we had high hopes for her.
The introduction was conducted under the expert eye of Carolien, a volunteer who has extensive primate experience. Initially Max was rather upset about being separated from his human surrogate parents who had hand raised him for the last two months. Maggie was also rather unimpressed at the new arrival and sat with her back to him on the opposite side of the enclosure. But over the course of an hour, and keeping herself busy with various twigs, she edged closer and closer occasionally glancing over her shoulder. Eventually she bounded over, picked up Max and hugged him close to her chest. Max screamed with all his might, but Maggie refused to put him down. The animal care team were on hand to stop any disasters but it became clear that she only had the very best intentions.
The next challenge was making sure that Max got enough milk and food. From what we know of her history before she arrived at the Centre we were quite sure she had not had any babies herself and so she may not have understood Max’s needs in quite the same way. The first day was a challenge, but eventually Maggie learnt to bring Max to the enclosure mesh so he could drink out of a bottle. He has also finally learnt to drink milk out of a saucer and his favourite fruits are mango and banana, which Maggie will gently share with him. The two are now very happy and human contact has ceased altogether.
So far so good, a great success story for the Centre! Next step will be the integration with the other blue monkey troops which will happen over the next couple of weeks, before Max gets too big to be seen as a threat by the other males.
Find out more about Lilongwe Wildlife Centre at www.lilongwewildlife.org.