Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Fractured Female

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my life in the primate world.  November has proven to be quite a busy month…it started out with a relaxing trip to the Amazon, but I came back to whirlwind two weeks of reassessing my entire life and working towards a new grad school goal.  Lots of emails were sent, lots of purpose statements were written, lots of sleep was lost.  But everything worked itself out…or at least, I think it will eventually work itself out.  It always/usually does. 

There is much to discuss.  So I'll start with my female.  About three and a half weeks ago, amid the “prodigal son” theatrics (that is, the return of GN’s subadult), my female injured her front left foot.  It could have happened during any of the altercations, but I believe it most likely occurred when the female/subadult scuffle caused the both of them to fall out of the tree and on to the ground.  Since this incident, I have noticed many changes in my female’s personality, as well as the group dynamic.

GN's beautiful female, Carmen

Pre-injury, my female was clearly the leader of her pack.  She was the one guiding the rest of the group to new resting trees or foraging trees...always squeaking, hinting for her family to hurry up and join her.  Now GN has no real leader. Sometimes it’s the male, other times it’s the subadult (who has been with the group everyday since he returned), even the little juvenile led GN this past week.  The female however, now hangs towards the back, struggling to keep up.

Holding up her injured foot.

She is completely unable to use her front left foot.  She lifts it up and carries it close to her chest when she walks, not letting it touch the branch.  She doesn’t use it to feed, nor does she use it to groom herself or the others.  I was thinking that eventually she would regain her four-legged locomotion, but it seems that this handicap might become permanent.  Slowly, but surely, her speed and agility is increasing; she is adjusting to life without one foot.  It obviously impairs her everyday activities, but not to the point that she has stopped eating or stopped nursing.  Sill eating? Still nursing?  Yeah, I think she’ll be just fine.  It is slightly heartbreaking to watch my female hobble through the canopy, but she is a fiery, tenacious little monkey, and I have a feeling this won’t hold her back for long.  

Cuddling with her man (L to R: Juvenile, Female, Male)

FUN SCIENCE FACT #20: The largest frog in the world is the Goliath Frog (Conraua goliath) of West Africa.  It can grow as long as 33 cm (13 inches) and weigh as much as 3 kg (8 lbs).  

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