|Juancho during the last time tourists paid him a visit|
For those of you who never got a chance to meet him let me introduce Juancho. Juancho is a male red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus). Howler monkeys are herbivores who live in troops with one predominant male, who does almost 100% the mating, a number of females and a few submissive males who do almost 0% of the mating. A result of this mating structure is that the dominant male needs to have a strangle grip ( almost literally) on the submissive males to ensure that they don't overthrow him. Aggression is not limited to the males as the females also on occasion express themselves through violence. It is when the monkeys reach sexual maturity, around 3 years of age, that they begin to manifest this aggressive behavior. It will first manifest itself as mock threats but there will reach a point that they can become potentially dangerous.
Which brings us back to Juancho. A resident of the Maikuchiga monkey sanctuary, Juancho was know to be a sucker for female affection. It was not uncommon to see him curled up quietly in the lap of a female visitor as he enjoyed her caresses. Amid the madness sometimes created by some of the other more hyperactive residents of the sanctuary he seemed a relief for those who found the other monkey's play a bit too lively. Always happy to be stretched out lazily in the sun it was not a little out of character when Juancho began to manifest aggressive displays, climbing into overhead trees and threateningly shaking limbs. At the beginning however, these demonstrations were harmless and a great way for guests to see how a wild howler monkey might receive intruders into his domain. Unfortunately these displays did not remain so benign. On a visit in August with a group of 6 Germans which included 3 young boys Juancho made it very clear that things had gone beyond just mock posturing. Although it was fascinating to see him charge forward , hair standing on end , violent intent written across his face, it was concerning that he had become so territorial. Even though the expert staff controlled the situation and were able calm him down to the point where the boys could share the same space safely, it had become very clear that he had reached that point in his life cycle where he would be ready to take the next step in the rehabilitation process. So the decision was made to relocate Juancho and allow him to make his fortunes out in the forest.
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