While on a travel assignment in Panama last month, I met a special spider monkey living at Safarick's, a rescue and rehabilitation zoo that opened its doors to the pubic in 2014.
Safarick's was founded by a Canadian family from Montreal. Owners Antonio and Rita work with the Panamanian government and the country's animal services to house wild and exotic animals that have been confiscated due to illegal captivity, trafficking, abandonment, deforestation, etc. They also rehabilitate sick and injured animals who are then released back to the wild.
Unfortunately, the majority of the primates will likely not be released back as they've spent most of their lives in deplorable conditions as someone's "pet." Sadly due to their years in captivity, they do not have the necessary survival skills to make it in the wild.
To keep the animals thriving as much as possible, Safarick's practices animal enrichment as outlined in author Halit Khoshen's "Environment Enrichment and Well-Being of Mammals in Captivity." For example, items in the animal enclosures are always changing to prevent boredom and food is hidden to encourage foraging as opposed to placing ready-to-eat-meals in stainless steel bowls.
I spent some quality time with this spider monkey, and when I brought out a stuffed animal, the excitement it created was caught beautifully in this video, proving just how positive the effects of animal enrichment can be. Let the beat-boxing begin!