Issue 2, June 21
June 19: The Big Day
The day began at 7 a.m., when the GLTs were coaxed into their nest box by their keeper, Rebecca, and GLT scientist Jennifer, which took a minute, but eventually they cooperated and scurried into their cooler. At about 8:15 we headed down to the exhibit with the monkeys in hand. Jennifer carefully carried the family, in the nest box, down to the exhibit, where Zoo Director John Berry briefly explained the free-range program to the 30 or so people who had come to see the release.
We proceeded down into the exhibit to tree zero. We fitted the cooler with our new camera, and began raising the nest box into the tree. Things were going smoothly until the nest box was just a few inches from its holder—Eduardo began to push his way out. He managed to squeeze half of his body out of the hole by pushing on the door. At this point Jennifer decided it was best to just open the door before placement was complete.
Eduardo came bounding out of the box. He didn't go far, though, only climbing up a few branches, where he remained while he watched as we finished hoisting the nest box into place. He waited patiently for Laranja and the twins to venture out, which did not take long. Laranja came out shortly after the door was opened, followed by the twins. They came out so quickly, we weren't even finished tying up the nest box.
Once the twins leaped out, the adventures began. Within seconds of young Samba's maiden voyage from the nest box, she fell to the ground as she tried to complete a jump. The crowd gasped but was great at keeping all eyes on her as she ran across the ground of the exhibit out onto the walkway and over into the grass island between their main exhibit and the restrooms. Thankfully, the crowd that had come out for the release saw where Samba ran. She found a place under a patch of leaves where she cowered, waiting for someone to come rescue her. She did not move an inch and did not call to mom and dad, so we did not know where she was in the leaves for what seemed like eternity.
We decided to flush out the area to locate and rescue Samba because mom and dad were not too interested in saving their daughter. Eduardo tried looking for Samba for a few minutes but since she was not moving or calling he did not know where she was. Hunger eventually won out in the end. He headed back to his food pan, where he chowed down. Denny, one of the Zoo's keepers, finally located Samba underneath the leaves as people flushed out the area. We netted Samba and brought her back to the nest box, so she could reunite with her family. The nest box was lowered, Samba was placed inside with the door closed, the box was hoisted back up, and the door was opened only after the family came back to the nest box. It took only seconds for them to come and meet Samba.
After all this nerve-racking excitement, both Samba and Gisela fell a couple more times, but only one more fall was to the ground. The other times they fell, the girls caught themselves on a rope or branch. Thankfully, there were no injuries that accompanied any of the falls. Needless to say, Samba was a bit traumatized by her falls and was hesitant to attempt any more jumps, making it difficult for her to get back to the nest box. She had ventured away from the box shortly after being placed in it and got stuck in a tree right behind tree zero. Despite many attempts by Laranja, Eduardo, and Gisela to help Samba find her way back to the next box she just did not want to move unless someone would carry her. She kept calling for mom or dad to come, but never followed them when they came. Eventually after about an hour, she did find her way back following the whole family.
The day calmed down after this eventful morning, and the family took it easy for the rest of the day, not venturing too far from the nest box. Eduardo and Laranja both came out separately several times exploring the area a bit and going down to tree 9, which has a hole they enjoy hanging out in. Eduardo even came down to the fence taking it back to the box once. Neither Laranja nor Eduardo stayed away from the twins for too long before returning to check on them. By 2:30 p.m. the family was back in the box, playing a bit and resting. At around 3:30, they all were sleeping right before a thunderstorm hit. Samba and Gisela were sleeping on the top layer of their nest box when a loud burst of thunder struck. At the sounds of the storm they jolted up, curiously peered out the door with wide eyes and then got scared and went below to be with mom and dad. It began pouring rain shortly after, and even started lightning, but they were all fine, sleeping right through the storm. Once it cleared, Eduardo did pop his head out of the nest box, making a quick appearance for the five to seven watchers, but they were all sound asleep by the last scan of the day.
What an eventful day for the family, especially Samba and Gisela, who are experiencing everything for the first time! I hope our volunteers are excited and ready to keep on their toes watching this fantastic group of four who are sure to keep us all busy this summer!