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President of the Zoological Society warns: Capuchin monkeys aggressive, can spread yellow fever, rabies
Don’t buy capuchin monkeys, says the president of the Zoological Society, Gupte Lutchmedial. He said the monkeys, which are not indigenous to T&T, can spread diseases and can be very aggressive during mating season. “When they are ready to breed, they are known to attack female owners,” he warned.
He was speaking after ten protected animals were rescued from D’s Pet Shop in Edinburgh Village, Chaguanas. They were taken to the Emperor Valley Zoo in Port-of-Spain, where they are receiving medical attention. On February 18, pet-shop owner Desmond Ramlogan of Chaguanas pleaded guilty to the possession of six baby capuchins and four morocoy turtles. After Ramlogan’s sentencing, Chaguanas Third Court Magistrate Alexander Prince ordered that the animals should be taken to the zoo immediately.
When the T&T Guardian spoke to Lutchmedial on Tuesday, he said the animals had arrived at the zoo the day before and were “resting comfortably.” The zoo’s vet Dr Vandanaa Baboolal said all six of the monkeys appeared to be malnourished, adding that they had “no fat content at all.” She also said the smallest monkey had a leg injury.
Baboolal said she administered an oral dewormer to the monkeys as well as a multi-vitamin injection, since they were so underfed. Since the monkeys are omnivorous, they would continue to be fed fruit and mealworm. The morocoys, she said, also seemed to be severely dehydrated and were receiving the necessary attention. All ten animals are currently in quarantine.
Asked what the next step will be for the protected animals, Lutchmedial said the capuchin monkeys cannot be set free. “They are not indigenous to Trinidad, so you cannot release them into the wild,” he said. Lutchmedial said all six of the monkeys are male and this may pose a problem when they mature.
“Monkeys live in troops and when they reach adulthood and are ready to breed, they become miserable and violent.” He said the monkeys will have to remain at the zoo and this will only worsen the gender imbalance of capuchin monkeys there: the zoo has 14 male capuchins and only three females.
Lutchmedial said he hopes the animals can be used to educate the public against purchasing these monkeys as pets. He plans to put the monkeys in a separate cage and to display newspaper clippings of the court case involving Ramlogan. Baboolal said the public also needed to know that monkeys can pass on diseases such yellow fever, rabies, and tuberculosis. The four turtles will also remain at the zoo.
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