Emma R

Scotland | March 2016

Raising a baby Vervet Monkey

Submitted by Emma R | March 2016

The whole experience was such a positive one, but I must say helping rescued animals get back to full health and fitness and being able to release them back into the wild had to be the most rewarding thing about the whole trip. Getting hands on with all sorts of different animals was the most amazing experience and all the staff members were absolutely lovely and so helpful.  It wouldn’t have been the same without the staff.

I loved the idea of it being a rescue sanctuary, and what made me choose this programme over others was the chance of getting hands on experience with such amazing animals, and knowing I could be helping them out of bad situations and getting them to a better place.

A week after my arrival a one week old vervet monkey was brought to the sanctuary. Sadly its mother had been killed by a car, but luckily a passerby saw the baby and brought it to us.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this wee thing, he was so small and fragile and you could see how scared he was - his eyes told his traumatic story.  As soon as I saw him though, I knew I was going be hooked, I was so lucky when I was told that he was going to be mine to look after for the remaining six weeks of my time at the sanctuary.  He needed a name, so me being Scottish, it just had to be Hamish and it suited him perfectly.  No day was the same with my precious little boy, he slept in my room, we got up in the morning, fed him, put him back to his bed for some extra sleep while I prepared food for all the other animals at the sanctuary. Once they were fed it was straight back to Hamish for another feed.  Then it was playtime – well I say playtime, he didn’t want to leave me to start with so it was more of a learning experience for him. As he was just over a week old, he was still unstable on his feet, but as the days went on he got stronger and a lot braver.  He wasn’t just a vervet monkey to me, he was my baby, my best friend the whole time I was there, we grew so close, he went everywhere with my clinging to my t-shirt or just me carrying him round wrapped up in his wee blankets.

It was such an amazing experience watching him grow up for the six weeks I was with him, I grew so attached to him. For example, the first time he climbed a small tree, I cried with pure joy when he got to the top and when he got there he started screaming cos he needed mum as he didn’t know what to do now he was up the tree.  Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I cried for a good hour and didn’t want to let go of him, he didn’t want to let go of me either, I put him down on the sofa, turned and started walking away, he screamed and ran to me and just attached himself to my leg and did not want to let go and as you can imagine – yes that just made me cry even more.

I still think of my wee boy every day, he’s my phone lock screen and his picture takes pride of place in my room so I can still see him every day and I get regular updates and pictures of him from the project. And of course I plan on returning to see my boy all grown up.

To find out more about this programme, visit the project web page!

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