When spider monkeys are taken from the wild and sold illegally as pets, they do not experience the forested environment that their bodies have evolved for. Many pet spider monkeys learn to walk bipedally on the ground, like humans. This behaviour is rarely documented in the wild, as spider monkeys are vulnerable to predation when they descend from the safety of the trees. Although bipedal walking is present within wild communities it occurs in the canopy, and less frequently than observed in pet spider monkeys. Ecoparque el Fenix strive to promote natural behaviours such as arboreal locomotion which is an important aspect of monkey rehabilitation. Environmental enrichment such as rope ladders and hanging platforms are used to provide arboreal pathways, encouraging monkeys to climb across enclosures rather than walking on the ground. Resting platforms also allow our monkeys to relax in a way similar to wild spider monkeys, who use tree branches for sleeping and resting.
One rope ladder costs a total of £6. If you would like to contribute to our sanctuary by donating a rope ladder please see our donate page for more details.
Spider monkeys are very social primates with a complex social strategy known as fission-fusion. The migration of adults from one group to another means spider monkeys must have the ability to communicate with each other including recognition of suitable mates (known as kin selection and mate recognition systems). These complicated social skills are learned from an early age as young spider monkeys play with their mother and other relatives. As with many primates, spider monkeys rely upon their mothers for a long time, dependent on milk and social security. Pet spider monkeys are taken from their mothers when they are only babies, to be raised by their human owners. The absence of their biological mother or other monkey play mates results in poor development of social skills. Ecoparque el Fenix have the task of introducing rescued or donated spider monkeys to their own species. For many of our newly rescued monkeys, introduction to the sanctuary is the first time they will meet their own species. Social integration can be stressful for ex-pet spider monkeys. Sometimes progress can be slow, but once they find their feet their welfare is dramatically improved. It is not natural for spider monkeys to be raised apart from their own species, and Ecoparque el Fenix aim to provide social opportunity to all rescued monkeys.
Ecoparque el Fenix plan to build a new social enclosure for the formation of a second social colony within the sanctuary in 2014. This project is fully funded by public support.
If you would like to help fund materials for the new enclosure please visit our ‘How you can help’ page for more information.