Issue Three, June 18
The morning started off warm and muggy but things flowed smoothly, and it wasn’t long before the cooler loaded with six chirping monkeys was carried out to the free-range exhibit. After a little trouble getting the nest box secured in the tree, we were ready to go.
Eduardo was enthusiastically trying to get his arm out to pull his escape trick from last year but with a tug, the honors of the grand opening went to Jennifer. Eduardo shot out with one baby on his back and sat on a branch in tree zero while he waited for the rest of the family to follow. Laranja, carrying the second baby, stuck her head out after a few seconds before making an exit as well. They were soon followed by Mara and Moe, the twins born last November, who lost no time testing their acrobatic skills in their new habitat, bouncing from tree to tree like they had always done just that.
Old habits die hard, and Eduardo very soon climbed the rope to tree five and looked longingly at Holly Hill. Laranja must have felt the same tug because she soon joined him in the search for the proper crossing place. I just couldn’t believe that they were going to venture out so far so soon on their first day! Moe seemed ready to follow, though he obviously preferred to stick to higher branches, disliking the feel of the ropes. Mara, on the other hand, did not seem ready to leave the area of the nest box, and there were quite a few trips back that way made by Eduardo and Moe in an effort to show her the way. Once they had the whole group in tow, they headed up into the low black walnut that reaches far over the walkway onto Holly Hill.
There seemed to be a little confusion as to exactly where to cross and in the melee Moe took a bad step and came crashing down to the ground. Everyone gasped as he hit. Mike, an invertebrate keeper, missed catching him by a few feet. Moe picked up his head almost immediately but lay stunned for a few seconds before finding his feet. Eduardo, the devoted father, was down to help him in a flash, moving low on the fence and onto a trash can to see if Moe was all right. The young monkey stayed on the concrete a few more seconds before jumping up on the stone wall and then crossing the path again to rejoin his father. In no time at all, he was back up in the black walnut and the entire family made a successful crossing onto Holly Hill.
The family spent a restful hour foraging through tree 35, also known as the Bench Holly as it is located directly up the hill from the bench. At this time Laranja seemed to get hungry and set off to make the crossing back to the main exhibit. It took a few tries to find the right route, which was compounded by the fact that no one seemed to be following her. She had been carrying both infants while in the holly tree but as she moved back and forth she left one unattended. Tired of waiting for the rest of the family, she moved back across the path with one infant in tow and went to the food pan. The infant fell off her back once, landing in the soft leaf litter and staying still until mom went down and got it. After having a little lunch, she settled herself into tree five where she seemed satisfied to long call now and then while waiting for everyone to come home.
Meanwhile, Eduardo had gotten restless and looked intent on joining Laranja. However, he overshot the crossing in the low black walnut several times. He and Moe investigated the high black walnut where in years past crossing was possible with a bit of a leap. Unfortunately part of the branches that made that possible have since broken off and it is a quite a risky crossing now. Luckily, they seemed to realize this and never made the choice to try it. After about an hour on its own, Eduardo went and picked up one of the babies from the Holly Tree and then finally opted to cross on the ground on the far end of Tamarin Run by the bathrooms.
This left Mara and Moe alone on Holly Hill and they seemed quite unsure of how to proceed. They climbed high up into the high black walnut, looking for a place to cross and we all held our breath hoping they wouldn’t jump or fall from that height. After some frantic climbing, they also elected to cross on the ground, moving along the rock wall and then making a run for the fence. They stopped briefly to investigate the Sky-Kennel we had tucked behind the bench lockbox before making it back into the exhibit. Moe went over the fence and Mara squeezed through the chain link. Once back in they ran around on the ground, not quite finding their way back to tree zero to join their parents. Moe made it first, scrambling up the black mesh tacked to the tree. Mara made two trips to the waterfall for a drink and sprawled briefly on a rock, obviously tired and over heated. She finally used the pulley ropes to scale her way back up to the nest box.
The whole family spent the rest of the afternoon more or less resting and eating. The infants made several appearances out of the nest box. They were even left alone in the crook of a branch on tree zero several times. A little after 5 p.m., Laranja and Eduardo made a short foraging trip to the clump of hemlock trees in the corner of their exhibit. Most of the family seemed to have settled down for bed by 6:30 and aside from a short stare down between Eduardo and a crow, no more action was seen. By 7:30, the only movement in the nest box was a very sleepy attempt at nursing by an infant.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the group’s busy day. It was quite an opening to the volunteers' GLT-watching season. Many more adventures are sure to be in store, though let’s hope they are a little less stressful for all involved. Find out about the rest of the tamarins' first week’s happenings in the next edition of Monkey Messages.