It's difficult to not fear monkeys after being chased down by a group of macaque monkeys at the tender age of seven and, then again at the age of 20, being trapped in a bathroom by a large male patiently waiting for me outside the door. Needless to say, I've been traumatized by monkeys and held a fear for them my whole life. So you can imagine the day I arrived at the Toucan Rescue Ranch to see adult spider monkeys. I was quite surprised and very nervous. A few weeks went by and I plucked up the courage to begin helping with the spider monkeys morning and afternoon feeding. If I got a little too close, both Izzy and Noelia would reach through and grab chunks of my hair, taking my dignity with it. I was determined at this stage to conquer my fear and decided I would slowly work towards gaining their trust. In the afternoons, I would take them treats and after a period of time they started to warm up to me- Izzy in particular. I am now at the point where Izzy will anticipate my arrival at the enclosure and she will come down to greet me, following me as I manage their feeding and care. I've learnt that spider monkeys are very intelligent and can sense fear in people. As my fear disappeared the bond between us grew and I'm very grateful for having had this special time with her here at the Ranch.
By former volunteer Talia Harris | Read more about volunteer's experiences by subscribing to our newsletter!