This story starts as most stories, the arrival and meeting of the main character. Riley.
But why is his story so important to me?
Not only because Riley’s integration was my first ever integration but, mainly because this little monkey stole my heart the minute he arrived at the Vervet Monkey Foundation.
Arrival of a small scared monkey
When Riley arrived he was very scared. He just sat in a corner of the quarantine cabin and didn’t want to come close to us.
He was the most heartbreaking little fluff ball?
We think that he was probably kept in a small cage with almost no human contact. One of the things that led us to think that was that he had no climbing skills. He was very clumsy.
(baby monkeys are clumsy the firsts months of their lives, but Riley was old enough to know how to do it properly)
The other signs were that he was not used to human contact and he had a lot of abnormal behaviours.
Slowly we got him to trust us.
We made sure that the same people were with him the first days in quarantine. Doing this we made sure he could bond with us and we would avoid overwhelming him.
Improving every day
Slowly he got used to his caretakers and didn’t hide anymore.
That was a huge improvement, but of course we also didn’t want him to get too used to humans. He needed to be around monkeys as soon as posible.
After his days in quarantine and when we were sure he was healthy enough, we started to plan his integration.
Bonding with his foster mum
As soon as we got him inside his intro cage, the whole troop was around it. They all wanted to know who the new monkey was.
Because he was still small we wanted to introduce him first to some possible foster mums. The first one in front of the door was Polar (long live the amazing foster mum Polar!).
Polar is one of our favourite foster mums. She has adopted a lot of orphan babies during the years and took really good care of them.
Very soon these two were inseparable!
Riley still showed his abnormal behaviour from time to time, specially when he was stressed, but being with Polar and feeling protected made things easier for him.
Letting him go
Although Riley didn’t spend much time in our care, I felt very attached to him. Maybe it was because he was so sweet and had such an awful life before he arrived at the VMF.
But, I knew that he had to go with his new family. He belonged with other vervet monkeys.
Even though he probably didn’t remember his life with his mum before he became a pet, Riley was very good at learning monkey behaviour.
His integration went smooth. After he got used to Polar, we started to let some juveniles inside the intro cage, that way he could start to play with monkeys his age.
And of course, the amazing Thomas William came to make friends with Riley. This juvenile is one of my favourite monkeys in the group. So sweet and patient, he is the perfect big brother. Everyone loves him!
The whole integration took only 3 months! We had a new record!
This little boy knew excactly how to win everyone’s heart. And was clever enough to become friends with the alpha babies (Baba Cool and Zabana).
(Being friends with them insures your protection from the high rank females)
Riley has been now for almost 2 year in Skrow troop! He is a fully integrated monkey with lots of friends and females that look out for him.
He loves to eat, run around playing with the other juveniles, hang out with his big brother TW and he likes to tease Mika from time to time by screaming at her?.
Overall he is a happy monkey, and that is why we do it.