Howler monkeys dropping dead, falling from trees due to excessive heatwave: report

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The extreme heatwave in Mexico is not only affecting the environment, it’s wreaking havoc on the howler monkeys and causing them to fall dead out of trees, the Associated Press reported. 

“They were falling out of the trees like apples. They were in a state of severe dehydration, and they died within a matter of minutes,” wildlife biologist Gilberto Pozo described what he witnessed to the AP. 

In the city of Tecolutilla, Tabasco state, it was reported that the dead monkeys started appearing on Friday, when a local volunteer fire-and-rescue squad showed up with five of the monkeys in the bed of the truck.

So far, at least 83 howler monkeys have been found dead in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco. However, many others were rescued by local residents, with five being rushed to a local veterinarian for immediate care.


A veterinarian feeds a young howler monkey rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolutilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, Tuesday. Dozens of howler monkeys were found dead in the Gulf coast state while others were rescued by residents who rushed them to a local veterinarian.  (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

“They arrived in critical condition, with dehydration and fever,” Dr. Sergio Valenzuela told the AP. “They were as limp as rags. It was heatstroke.”

At least nine cities in Mexico have set temperature records as of May 9, with Ciudad Victoria, in the border state of Tamaulipas, registering 117 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AP. The heatwave has been blamed on the deaths of at least 26 people since March, the AP reported.

Valenzuela said that the monkeys appeared to be on the mend, stating that they were “recovering, aggressive, and biting again.” 

The howler monkey, which is the “loudest of all the monkeys,” is known for its loud whooping bark or roar, according to National Geographic.

Pozo added that many local residents wanted to help the monkeys, even adopt them, but he cautioned them on this.


Howler monkeys sit in a cage at a veterinarian’s clinic after they were rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolutilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

“The truth is that babies are very delicate, they can’t be in a house where there are dogs or cats, because they have pathogens that can potentially be fatal for howler monkeys,” Ponzo described, stressing they must be rehabilitated and released into the wild. 

Pozo’s group has set up a special recovery stations for the monkeys and is working to organize a team of specialized veterinarians to give the monkeys the care they need.

Howler monkeys also get almost all the water they need from the food they eat, which is another reason the heatwave has been detrimental to their survival. 

Pozo stated that several factors led to the death of the monkeys, including high heat, drought, and forest fires.


A howler monkey sits inside a cage with others at a veterinarian clinic after they were rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolutilla, Tabasco state, Mexico, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

Days after the monkeys began to drop dead, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged the issue, saying he had heard about it on social media. 

He then congratulated Valenzuela on his efforts and said the government would seek to support the work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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