Animal Defenders International Rescues Peru’s Last Circus Monkey & Releases Her Back Into The Rainforest With Her Adopted Family

Photos from Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has released a heartwarming video of a spider monkey named Maruja who was the last to be rescued from a circus in Peru. Maruja was recently released with her adopted family back into her rainforest home where she had been stolen many years ago.

ADI Peru found Maruja tied to the top of a mototaxi in the capital city of Lima in 2017. She was being forced to promote the circus, which was illegal at the time, due to the country’s circus ban between 2014 and 2016. At that time, wildlife officials from ADI and Peru had already enforced the ban by seizing and relocating 100 animals.

WAN talked with Tim Phillips, Vice President of ADI, who confirmed that the ban was still in place when an ADI supporter sent footage to the organization of the monkey being exploited for entertainment.

“Wild animals in circuses had been eliminated by this time but then this monkey turned up,” Phillips told WAN, who explained that within 24 hours of receiving the tip, ADI and police worked to save Maruja.

After passing her health checks at three years old, ADI determined that Maruja was young enough to join the wild-release rehabilitation program at Taricaya Ecological Reserve, near Puerto Maldanado.

There, it became clear that young Maruja’s psychological development had been damaged by her treatment in the circus. She struggled to integrate with the other spider monkeys and did not always eat on her own, and instead, waited to be fed.

After a few orphaned baby spider monkeys arrived at Taricaya that were in need of a foster mother, something amazing happened. Gentle Maruja started to care for and feed the babies, her natural instincts kicked in. She also began to feed and care for herself.

After years in rehabilitation, Maruja and her surrogate family were finally relocated to a safe location to integrate with other groups of spider monkeys in the wild. She, along with the other rescued monkeys are being monitored with radio collars in the rainforest.

Upon their release, a wide-eyed Maruja left her carrier, stood up straight, looked around, and then climbed a tree and began to swing through the forest canopy.

This video brings into sharp focus the direct effects on individual lives when humans take animals from the wild to use for entertainment, in experiments, hunt them for food, or when we destroy their environment and social structure,” Jan Creamer, President of ADI said in a statement sent to WAN. “It is a reminder of why we must end the suffering of wild animals in circuses.”

Spider Monkeys are one of the most intelligent monkey species on earth, using a wide range of sounds to communicate. They express joy, pleasure, pain, fear, and distress, and their social bonds are important to them, just like ours. They thrive together, in family groups, in complex societies. They can live up to 25 years in the wild.

“Although these animals communicate differently and do not look like us, or live as we do, this video and Maruja’s story, shows our differences are of degree, rather than kind,” concluded Creamer, who noted that everyone benefits when humans respect animals.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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