My first week at Wild Futures has passed and the contrast between the first day and today, 7 days later is extreme. When I first arrived I was carrying my ridiculous amount of luggage down the hill to Murrayton house (The Monkey Sanctuary HQ), completely unaware of what I was to encounter. I met three other volunteers outside, Roxy, Amy and Robyn who went into the house to find Brooke, who was to be the first proper contact I made upon arrival. She took me to my room, a dormitory with 5 beds, to drop off my stuff before giving me a tour of the place. It was all quite intimidating at first with lots of people who I didn’t know and a huge house all of which was foreign to me. Later in the day, three new volunteers also arrived, Nick, Josh and Levi. We were all in the same dorm along with another guy called Joshua who had been here an extra week. It was all quite overwhelming initially not knowing anyone coupled with no mobile reception and a large house, but by the end of the second day it felt just like a home from home having made friends with everyone.
The view from the monkey sanctuary
On my first official day of being here I was assigned to the Woolly Monkeys routine for the morning with an intern called Vicky. We started by getting into protective gear (overalls, boots and gloves) then collected the equipment (buckets, dry cloth, cleaning cloth, scraper and dustpan and brush). All of the faecal matter is removed from the enclosure along with food and soiled bedding. Once that is complete the surfaces are washed down and then dried, with food and water being put out at the end. After each enclosure is cleaned the buckets etc are taken back to the courtyard to be emptied, cleaned and or changed to prevent contaminating the different enclosures. During the cleaning of the enclosures Vicky and I were talking and it transpired that she had done the exact same undergraduate degree as me at the same university. Once we had finished cleaning it was time to get changed, clean the equipment and courtyard and then have a break. Vicky took me for a tour of the sanctuary showing me the individual monkeys and their names/stories, which was both interesting and useful.
The names of the Woolly Monkeys
The rest of the day like every other day after routine involves doing various maintenance jobs around the sanctuary from painting to digging woodchip and cleaning. That evening we sat down to a communal meal (which are always vegan) cooked by a keeper called Tanya, it was my first proper taste of a vegan meal and it was beautiful; couscous and humus. The following day I was on the woolly monkey routine again, this time with Nick. The rest of the week I was working with various people on the capuchin routine which is essentially the same as the woolly monkey routine only it takes longer and the indoor enclosures are a lot taller so require a fair bit of climbing.
As the week progressed friendships progressed, with Josh, Nick and Levi proving to be my main group of friends here as we have a very similar sense of humour, which helps even on the most tiring of days. Everyone here at the sanctuary is friendly and welcoming so I am looking forward to the coming weeks.