The very young primates that come to the Limbe Wildlife Centre normally get a human foster mom to take care of them and to give milk 24 hours a day. The person who takes this task usually gets attached to the animal very quickly, just as if it were a human baby. It is remarkable that the same mechanism works for different species of monkeys.
Last year I took care of a red-eared monkey Ebo during four months. After her period of quarantine I started her introduction to a mixed group of guenons. There was a female red-eared monkey in the group, but it was a female putty-nosed monkey who was immediately interested and pretty soon took the baby over from me. Ever since she has been very suspicious of me. It seems like she thinks that I might take her baby away again. Every morning when I do my round and come up to the fence Ebo comes towards me, but her foster mom quickly picks her up and takes her away from me. I am glad that Ebo has found another mother, although it is not precisely her own kind.
Last week one of our agile mangabeys died. She had a cancer in the uterus and despite two operations we were not able to make her better. Extra sad was that she left behind a baby agile mangabey named Buea, which she had adopted a few months ago. The quarantine period for Buea was over, so yesterday we moved her to the mangabey enclosure. There are three male agile mangabeys and one female grey-cheeked mangabey housed together. We had isolated the female and joined her with Buea. After just one minute the female started grooming Buea and today already they are inseparable.
The only primate who still has a human foster mom is the chimpanzee Mayos (see blog 30th May). To be precise: she also has a human foster aunt, because one of our volunteers is assisting Sandy with the 24-hour care. Mayos is doing great and easily switches from one to the other. Her introduction to two other infant chimpanzees has started and they are very careful with her. Some day soon she will stay with them, but we will still be around a lot to make sure she has everything she needs.