Written by Céline Burrer
A normal day at the refuge…
At 6:00am I start my day with a little hike from my Hostel (4U Hostel) up the hill “Las Huacas” to arrive at the Refuge at 6:30am, where the animals in the clinic are already waiting for me: Their kennels have to be cleaned (you should not be scared of the smell of opossum, monkey, raccoon etc… poop, otherwise this is not a good job for you 😉 ), and all of them are already waiting impatiently to be fed.
Once this is done, I can already hear the baby monkeys crying for me – they want to come out of their kennels. They already know that 7:30am is their time to have breakfast (soya based baby formula fed with 1mL syringes, leaves, some cooked apples and sweet potato), and afterwards they want to go outside to explore the trees to improve their climbing skills. My job at this point is mostly observing them, to make sure that these fragile babies (most of them are recovering from electrocutions) are not exposed to stress or are hurting themselves.
Every 3 hours I feed them 8 to 20mL of the formula, depending on the size of the baby. At about 11 o’clock they are getting tired, and I’m taking them inside again, so that they can sleep all cuddled up on their stuffed animals and hot water bottles. At 12:00 pm it’s my time to have a lunch break. While the babies are in their kennels, resting to be ready for the afternoon, I heat up the food I prepared at home.
After lunch an employee is watching the baby monkeys and I’m taking the baby raccoon and the opossums outside. They love to climb in the trees and eat insects they can find on the ground. Also baby magpie jay, Robin, is happy that I take him outside in the sun, even if he still has to learn to fly!
At 2:00pm I start putting new hot water bottles in the kennels, and prepare food plates, because at 2:30pm my day at the refuge is already over. I’m back at the hostel around 3:00pm and still have time to go to the beach, surf a little and enjoy the sunset.
The 5 months I volunteered for the Refuge for Wildlife were probably the most exciting time of my life! Of course it’s not always easy – most of the howler monkeys we get are badly
injured and not all of them survive. Before you decide to volunteer you should really be aware of the fact that you are not going to save all of the animals, even if all of us are, of course, doing our best. Furthermore, the babies, as cute as they are, are not pets! They are wild animals, which we want to release once they are old enough. You are going to be pooped and peed on, but no worries, after a while you will get used to it and the animals are giving you so much back from the love you give to them, that this is only a small detail!
During the 5 months Céline volunteered with us at Refuge for Wildlife she focused her attention on the youngest of our orphaned howler monkeys. Her calm and gentle personality was soothing for them and all of the monkeys she cared for are healthy and happy and now old enough to join the other orphans in the big nursery. Céline even had a monkey named after her who is thriving and one of the stars of our 2017 fundraising calendar. With her great personality and hard-working dedication to our volunteer program, Céline truly made a huge impact on all of us at Refuge for Wildlife and we miss her terribly. We wish Céline all the best with her future endeavours. Céline was awarded a certificate for completing our Educational Volunteer Program.