On Tuesday there was a lot of excitement in the center. After four years in the center, the group of capuchin monkeys were going to be released at the Tortuguero National Park. It was a very emotional day for those in the center that had been taking care of these monkeys since they arrived. The release, in fact, had been scheduled for the beginning of August. But several tropical storms forced the team to postpone the plans. One week, and then another. This was the third try. And, as the say goes, third time’s a charm!
The release was an adventure. It took almost the entire “monkey” team at the center to gather all the capuchins from their enclosure and put them in the pet transport cages. The car left before 9 am with three staff from the center: the founder and two of the people that had been working with the monkeys all this time. Ahead of them was a 2-hour road trip to Limón and a boat trip to Tortuguero. It is the only way to reach this remote park. Throughout the day, I could see some of the staff members that remained in the center checking their mobiles to get updates. On the boat, at the release site, and finally the release itself.
At 16:00, just when we were leaving the center, the team arrived with the empty cages and full of stories, how the monkeys hugged the staff members before starting to climb the tree. How some monkeys went out of the cage without hesitation and how others were scared to be in the wild. And how the latter was helped by some of the other monkeys to abandon their reluctance and join the group. And how the staff cried and laughed when they saw them disappearing in the jungle.
The day after, a group of sloths was released. Two of the volunteers that had been taking care of the sloths came along.
Today, ”our group” of 17 birds was relocated to the station in the jungle—the last stage before being liberated. I will miss them. In only three weeks, we have become quite attached to them. I cannot even phantom how it would be like to release an animal that has been with you for four years, like the capuchin monkeys. Such is the bittersweet moment of releasing a rescued animal into the wild.
Some of these animals have been with their caretakers for a long time. The animals are part of their life. And they let them go, as they know that their life is not in a rescue center, but in the wild, where they belong.