• Gladys Porter Zoo cares for baby spiders monkeys seized from smugglers
  • Mexican spiders monkeys were placed in the endangered list in 2020

A Texas zoo is struggling to keep up with the care of spider monkeys that have been seized along the southwestern border and is now seeking support from the public to keep them alive.

At least 19 baby Mexican spider monkeys and a howler monkey have found shelter at the Gladys Porter Zoo in the border city of Brownsville since March.

The zoo, which is home to another 1,500 species, had brought in incubators to care for some of the spider monkeys that were barely showed vital signs after they were discovered in backpacks and concealed within vehicles.

'This is deliberate smuggling,' Gladys Porter Zoo CEO and executive director, Dr. Pat Burchfield, told Border Report.

Burchfield, who was spent five decades at the zoo, bristled at the way smugglers have gotten their hands on the primates, who are natives to forests in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico

They have been considered to be endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2020.

'And the sad part about it is to get the baby spider monkeys, they killed the mother,' he said. 'And the fact that we've got 19, how many more made it through the border undetected.'

The zoo staff hand-feeds the baby monkeys with syringes every three hours. The animals are placed in incubators that provide warmth to their bodies to maintain them alive.

Mexican transnational cartels have been increasingly involved with the spider smuggling trade that is part of the illegal exotic pet smuggling business that nets $7 million to $20 million annually across the globe, according to Burchfield.

'Now we have major crime organizations in trafficking animals,' he said. 'Wildlife trafficking has become a major crime worldwide.'

Burchfield estimates that the sale of spider monkeys can fetch up to $8,000 each from people who see them as 'cute.'

In April, U.S. Border Patrol agents confiscated three spider monkeys covered in black clothing while searching a vehicle at a checkpoint in Falfurrias.

In March, Bridiana Mendoza, 26, was about to enter the United States with her three children when border agents stopped her at the Veterans International Bridge in Brownsville and discovered six spider monkeys in her purse and backpack.

Mendoza confessed that she had been offered $7,000 to traffic the monkeys to Houston.

Just weeks before her arrest, CBP agents found two howler monkeys in a vehicle driven by Jesus Arguello, 29, on the Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge.

For the moment, all 19 spider monkeys are kept separate from other animals at the zoo due to fears that they can carry parasites and diseases, including human illnesses.

The zoo has been in contact with other zoos for help and initiated a GoFuneMe account to buy incubators and create more outside enclosures while continuing to provide care to the monkeys. 

Although the monkeys can be legally purchased, Burchfield suggested they are not the ideal choices for owning as pets as they are most likely to bite as they grow older and are not meant to be kept inside homes.

Read more

2024-06-12T07:23:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd