A Tragedy 19th February 2009

A tragedy this week with the loss of Heidi who died of a snake bite. She was doing really well and at last living happily with the other 3 rhesus macaques and just about to be moved to new and bigger quarters as a new troop. She was found in late afternoon, sitting quietly in the corner of the pen, and was taken out to the vets for a check. Nothing was found but she quickly deteriorated into complete collapse and though at first everyone was at a loss to explain it, it eventually became clear that she must have been bitten by a venomous snake as all her organs were failing and she was eventually put to sleep at 3 AM. How she managed to get bitten and by what snake we obviously don’t know, monkeys usually have an instinctive fear of snakes and don’t go near one. Not only has this been the tragic loss of a monkey but has affected the 3 other rhesus, who have now all had to be separated and put back with the bonnet macaques again. This is because Heidi was in charge and protected Cedric, the youngest from bullying, stopped Pani from tormenting Kirsty the youngest female and generally kept the peace. When she was taken out of to pen and didn’t come back, Pani was distraught and became hysterical, screaming and calling for her. He wouldn’t even come to us for comfort and just kept up the calling all night, he still calls for her even now. He won’t have anything to do with Cedric or Kirsty and was attacking his former friends if they came near, so they had to be moved out. When Cedric and Kirsty were together alone, Kirsty reverted to her bad behaviour, curbed by Heidi of tormenting Cedric, so now they are all separated. Hopefully in time they will get back together again, but the structure of a group is very complicated and we are back to square one.

On a happier note, Daphne is progressing fast and is now like a younger sister to Pixie, who like many older brothers has no time or patience with her. She follows his every move and tries to catch up with him, eat what he’s eating and sleep on him if he’s sleeping. He just cuffs her round the ears, snatches her feed bottles and generally dismisses her as a nuisance. She is sleeping a little better at night and often goes once in the night for 4 hours between feeds.

The new cage is finished and the troops moved round so that the largest one is in the new and bigger accommodation. However it is at the moment still a case of musical chairs with pens, due to the complications caused by Heidi’s death, so at the moment Pixie still doesn’t have his pen where I am hoping he will be happy to play during the day and I think he may even get along with Baldrick for a while when they are both loose, with more space to play in.


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