Monkey Valley transfers nine bonobos to the Netherlands

“Transfers usually concern a single animal, rarely a whole group of individuals… Especially when they are great apes, it gets complicated. It’s stressful and also a big challenge for us. “. A few hours before D-Day, Jean-Pascal Guéry, deputy director general of the Monkey Valley, prepares to part with nine of its residents. Bonobos going to Holland, to Holland, to a new zoo. A project that has been waiting for over three years, and all the more necessary because the woman at the head of the clan can no longer live with the 18 bonobos who also live on the Romagne site. ” We had to form the group, allow the first interactions and social interaction. It was supposed to last a few months, but the construction of the new location was postponed and then came the health crisis. “, explains Jean-Pascal Guéry. A prolonged period, used by the trainers of the valley of the monkeys, in order to better prepare the primates for their movement.

Bonobos have been trained to voluntarily accept an injection to avoid using an arrow gun to put them to sleep before transfer. © Radio France
Marion Ferrere

Ensure a smooth transfer without using a hypodermic gun

Among the preparation exercises: meeting with his new coaches, who came several times from Holland. But also learn to bite. Means to avoid the stressful use of the hypodermic gun. ” We went step by step: first we showed the syringes, then we played with the cap, then with the needles. Then, little by little, we inject saline. As they broke silently, they agreed in the end very quietly to place their thigh against the railing. “, explains Franck Alexieff, one of the healers. The key is obviously a reward, but also less stress.Anesthesia is performed more calmly and will therefore be more effective. “, he adds.

The other important step was to get them used to isolation. “They will stay during the anesthesia and the trip, we don’t leave them in the same cage. Only the mothers and their babies will stay”, confirms the trainer. Each monkey, therefore, had to learn to spend time alone, something unusual for such a social primate.It was more complicated for Isalia, the head of the clan. In bonobos, the children are never separated from the mother. So for her, who is very protective, it took a while and it was a big sign of trust that she gave us by accepting “, rejoices Franck Alexieff.

It is up to us not to stress them, to whisper, not to show the presence of unknown individuals. All the material was also hidden so as not to worry them until then”

A total of seven bonobos will have to be put to sleep, adults only. Time to install them in their cage for the trip and perform blood tests. The two clan babies, on the other hand, will not be anesthetized.This is the tricky part. We will have to leave them to their mother and not stress them out. If they scream it might scare everyone else. It is up to us not to stress them, to whisper, not to show the presence of unknown individuals. All the material was also hidden so as not to worry them until then. “, Franck Alexieff slips. If all goes as planned, the nine primates should transfer within 1 hour. Nine hours of transport by truck will allow them to reach their new home in Holland. To reassure them, two Romagna healers will accompany them and stay with them for the first few days.

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