Until recently, when Edwin Wiek, founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), received an email from a worried resident in Bangkok. The email mentioned a monkey living in a dark hole between two buildings in a slum.
Relying on very little information, the WFFT set out to findthis monkey, who they later named Joe. A man led the team through narrow streets and they found Joe peeking out from behind wire, where he was trapped in a tiny enclosure. Wiek said in a statement:
I have seen a lot of animal suffering in the last 17 years, but (...) the condition the monkey was kept in was in the “top 10” of most horrible cases.
Joe was in an even worse condition than they had expected. He was living without water in a 3-foot "hell hole". There was very little sun that filtered through and the hole was dirty, covered in faeces and he had been sleeping on a solid mass of garbage and dirt.
The poor monkey had been holed up without friendsor sunlight for more than two decades and when they got him out, his muscle tissue had completely disappeared so he could hardly walk. He was completely dehydrated and almost all his teeth had fallen out.The WFFT managed to track down Joe's owner and found out that the Bangkok Zoo had offered to take Joe in, many years ago, if he would pay $100 a month for his upkeep. But nothing happened since then as the owner presumably couldn't afford it.
Joe is being taken great care of at the WFFT shelter, where he has just started to slowly move around his cage. He's got an extremely intenserecovery ahead of him, including learning to walk and climb, but at least he will have a constant supply of affection, food, water, sunlight and freedom. He will also be able to interact with other monkeys.
Wiek has seen a lot of pain and suffering in his career, but this was definitely a special case. He said in a moving statement:
I have been calling Thailand my home since 1990, for 26 years. On Tuesday I realised that all that time that I have been living and working in Thailand, this monkey has been in that cage, waiting for someone to rescue him. I just wish we would have known earlier.
Unfortunately, Joe's story is anything but unique. There are many more monkeys whose mothers are killed so that they can be sold into the pet trade, ending up extremely neglected and often dying of poorliving conditions. Volunteers who work in animal rescue operations feel very strong emotions on a daily basis, and Wiek said that the they found Joe was one of mixed emotions:
I felt embarrassed to be a human being, seeing what humans again and again do to animals.
For Joe, things ended well. He has a life expectancy of 35 years so he will hopefullybe able to live out his old age peacefully and cared for, thanks to his rescuers. The organisation gave an update on their Facebook page:
Joe was seen taking a bath in his clean water tub yesterday and has been communicating with his neighbours, other monkeys, whom he hasn't seen for so long.