Injuries caused by electrocution is what we see most often in the Refuge for Wildlife clinic. Every year Refuge for Wildlife rescues hundreds of monkeys and other wildlife that have been electrocuted due to uninsulated power lines and transformers.
Injuries caused by electrocution are gruesome and most are fatal. The severity of the injuries will depend on where the monkey touched the transformer and whether or not they were thrown off of it. If the monkey is stuck on the wires or transformer because their muscles have contracted and they cannot let go, the injuries will be more severe and almost always fatal. Injuries range from deep burns to the hands, feet and tail, to all-over burns to the entire face and body to fatal injuries to internal organs. In the case where the monkey also caught on fire, burns are even more severe.
At our onsite clinic, our veterinarian and skilled staff are experienced with treating electrical burns. Some amputations are performed to remove decaying limbs, fingers, toes and parts of tails, but usually the best treatment is proper cleaning of the wounds, pain relief, antibiotics and silver sulfadiazine burn cream. In cases where recovery is not possible, we also provide compassionate euthanasia when necessary.
Most of our surviving electrical burn victims are infant howlers between the ages of newborn to 6 months. The reason they survive the initial electrocution is because they are holding onto their mothers. The mother absorbs most of the electrical current and the babies usually only have burns on their hands, tail and any other body part in direct contact with their mother. Some are lucky enough to have only minor burns. We are always amazed at how well infant howlers are able to adapt with their disabilities and recover with little to no scars.
Each infant must stay with us until they are old enough to be released which is around 2.5 years old. Howlers are not considered adults until they are 4 years old. Since most of the surviving electrocution victims are young infant howlers that are only a few months old, this means that they stay with us for more than two years costing an average of $120 per month for each monkey.
$120 per month provides an orphaned howler with fresh leaves, produce, infant formula, kennel for sleeping, snuggling teddy bears, hot water bottle, a shared large enclosure, 24/7 caregiver, onsite veterinary care, medication, and enrichment toys. This is the base expense for an uninjured howler. For the babies that injured due to electrocution there are additional expenses for veterinary care, medications, burn cream, bandages, amputations and rehabilitation.