When the newborns are brought in they are cared for by loving humans 24/7 and are never alone again. Their humans do everything for them, the babies pee and shit and crawl all over them and we smile and tell them how awesome they are.
However at 2 ½ – 3 months old when the responsibility is transferred to a monkey mama they feel abandoned by their human moms, they are not happy about it – at all! The drama is intense and noisy! It would break your heart if you heard it. (Go to my FB page to watch video https://www.facebook.com/travellingcrone/ )
I saw/heard the beginning of Kiki’s and I walked away in tears. Yet within 40 minutes she was clinging to her foster mom and we were a distant memory.
Later I was assigned to watch another intro with Thomas William and Leonard. TW was a cake walk, by the time I got there he was clinging to Buffy and crawling all over her. Leonard on the other hand was still squawking whenever Buffy came near her though less so as time went on
The babies cracked me up watching their antics. Leonard decided that TW should be his foster mom and clung to him while piggy-backing him. Well poor TW is this wee skinny baby slightly smaller than Leonard for goodness sake. Of course he got knocked off-balance and was clinging to a pole for dear life while the 2 of them dangled. They lasted way longer than I thought they would but soon they fell and scampered away, back up the pole where Leonard again climbed aboard.
At one point Leonard got more scared of something else and decided any port in a storm and grabbed the Buffy bus as she went by. But 15 minutes later, again Buffy couldn’t get near her. Alone in the dark, I have a feeling Leonard might just be appreciating her warm body next to his.
The fostering program is just so fabulous. The babies can safely be integrated into the troop, the ladies have babies to play with and the densely complex society can more closely resemble a natural troop. All the boys have vasectomy so these babies are important to the social structure made up of bonding and alliances. The fostering program adds a family element to the troop. And it allows the babies to grow up in a troop and not with humans.
There is an integration program for the older Vervets where they put them in an intro cage that is attached to the large troop enclosure. The troop can then come by and say hello and get used to one another. When all is well they allow 1 or 2 members from the troop to come into the intro cage to meet the new comer and then another few until the newbie meets most of the troop safely. So by the time s/he is release into the troop it isn’t as traumatic to her/him or the troop.
This method is so much more humane and gentle then opening up the door and tossing the newcomer into the middle of the fray. It is also more time-consuming and a lot of volunteers are needed to make it work. The process is monitored at all times and detailed records are kept, especially with the babies to make sure they are drinking their milk. Initially they have to be hand fed until they are stabilized but unless they get sick they will never be handled by humans again.
ps – just heard from a volunteer staff that the 2 babies were curled up with Buffy for the night.
pps – if you want to see a video of Thomas William and Leonard as well as KiKi go to my FB page, https://www.facebook.com/travellingcrone/