Maisie the Howler Monkey Gets Wild

19 06 2010

Alouatta is the Latin name for howler monkeys. There is a lodge near David called Alouatta, because it is home to both wild and rescued howlers. And because “Howler Lodge” just doesn’t have as nice a ring to it.

Wild howler monkeys at Alouatta Lodge

I had wanted to go there for a while but its a bit hard to get to as it’s not on a bus route. I didn’t think I would have a chance but then the day before I left Fidelma informed me that she was planning a trip out there. The couple who runs the lodge has two children who they drop off and pick up in David everyday and they had offered to pick us up when they dropped off the kids and drop us off when they picked them up.

So Monday morning, when I should have been leaving Boquete, for good, Fidel, Eyal, Victor and I hopped on a bus to David, hopped off in front of Rey supermarket, hopped in Michelle’s jeep and rode 40 minutes over very very bumpy roads to the Alouatta Lodge. Michelle and her husband had bought the property several years ago to build their home and an ecolodge. There were so many wild howlers around that they decided it would be the perfect place for a howler monkey rescue. At the time Paradise Gardens had two howlers, Maisie and Yahoo. Maisie had been raised from an infant here and Yahoo had been here for only a few months. The managers of Paradise Gardens at the time decided that Alouatta would be a great place for them both.

Maisie and Novey at Alouatta. Maisie is telling us to stay away from her baby.

When we went by it had been almost three years since Maisie and Yahoo had moved to Alouatta. Yahoo was no longer there. Or maybe he was. He had taken up with a wild female howler, and run off with her troop. Maisie also found a wild mate and gotten pregnant. But she hadn’t liked her mate enough to join his troop, or maybe as Michelle suspected, she hadn’t  gotten along with the females in his troop. She had gone off with them for a while and still wandered freely around the area but she came back to Alouatta lodge to raise her baby. Her baby, born last November, was named Novey. Novey, partially for November, his birth month (Maisie arrived to Paradise Gardens in May, inspiration for her name) but also because the only store in David which would allow infant howler monkeys into their store was a hardware store called Novey. So Novey and Maisie wander the property, Novey clinging to Maisie’s back, his tail wrapped around her tail to keep himself balanced.

One of the rescue baby howlers playing near the lodge. The babies tend to stay close but they are free to wander as far as they want and the hope is that as they grow they will join with a troop and wander away.

When we visited in the morning Maisie and Novey were on the porch. Maisie was protective of her baby and made it clear that she did not want us to come near him.

Later in the afternoon, after taking a hike around the property and seeing a troop of wild howlers (who howled and barked loudly at us, and when we did not leave began to poop and pee on us, apparently a typical howler defense), it began to rain. We returned to the lodge soaked and hid from the continuing downpour under the eves of the lodge. Hiding from the rain along with us were all the rescue monkeys, mostly babies brought to Alouatta after their mothers were killed or after they were no longer wanted as pets. Maisie, with Novey on her back, jumped into Eyal’s lap and huddled there, head tucked under her arms.

Maisie and Novey in Eyal's lap. Fidel and the dog look on.

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