See baby spider monkeys go from starving to ‘flourishing’ in new home at California zoo

Spider monkeys, once part of illegal trafficking, are now “flourishing” at their new home in a California zoo, officials said.

In August, U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Calexico port of entry seized three baby spider monkeys that were hidden behind the seat of a car, McClatchy News reported.

The monkeys were found “malnourished and in poor condition,” according to a Jan. 19 news release by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

“Their condition was sad,” Kristi Burtis, vice president of wildlife care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said. “Unfortunately, these three babies were in a small duffel bag.”

After the monkeys were placed in quarantine by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance was called in the middle of the night, officials said. The monkeys were taken to the Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to be checked out.

“They’re getting a lot of attention,” Hendrik Nollens, vice president of wildlife health with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, said. “People are in there 24/7, monitoring 24/7, providing enrichment, providing food, interaction.”

Specialists said they’re eating, gaining weight and showing normal behavior.

While they’re receiving medical care, the monkeys are free to explore the outdoors and socialize, officials said.

“We wish these monkeys were not trafficked in the first place, but to have been found where they were and to have received the care they did is the best possible outcome,” Nollens said in the release. “Too often the outcome for smuggled wildlife is poor.”

Now, the spider monkeys have been moved to the Animal Care Center at the Safari Park, officials said.

With plans to spread awareness about the illegal wildlife trade, a new habitat was made for the monkeys where people will be able to see them in the coming weeks, officials said.

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