Monkey ‘mum’ is a record breaker

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A WOMAN who swapped Mansfield for a life saving endangered monkeys in Africa has broken a record in her field after taking in an abandoned baby primate.

Andrea Donaldson is the proud ‘mum’ of the longest-ever surviving Angolan Colobus monkey reared by humans after spending 24 hours a day feeding and caring for the tiny animal in Kenya.

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‘Baby Betsy’, as the conservationist named her, is from a group renowned for their sensitive stomachs and tricky feeding habits.

Andrea, a former pupil at Python Hill and Joseph Whitaker schools in Rainworth, hopes Betsy’s case will be used by experts around the world trying to care for the species.

Said Andrea (33): “It’s incredibly satisfying to get to this point. The Colobus is notoriously difficult in captivity.

“If we are successful in getting her to adulthood it’s knowledge that could be used elsewhere.”

Andrea and partner Keith Thompson work on a conservation project in the Diani Forest, Kenya, helping to secure the survival of the Colobus and other primates.

Both previously worked on a project in Malawi helping monkeys rescued from the bushmeat trade.

Betsy was recovered after being found roaming without her parents. Attempts to pass her to wild Colobuses failed so Andrea decide to try to rear her.

“We’ve mashed together different ideas from different places,” she added.

“She’s with me 24 hours a day as she would be with her mum in the wild, she even sleeps in my bed at night.”

Betsy’s diet includes goats milk mixed with a tiny amount of wild Colobus excrement to get the right gut bacteria, dubbed a ‘poop shake’, plus pro biotic solution and mutlivitamins.

Added Andrea: “She seems perfectly healthy and the next stage will be when she can only eat solids.

“It’s about providing her with a bond, almost as if she’s got something to live for.”

The Kenyan population of the Angolan Colobus is considered ‘nationally threatened’, with Andrea and Keith charged with protecting it in the face of expanding tourist developments.

In their care are seven Vervet monkeys, two Sykes monkeys, a baboon and one bush baby, plus Betsy.

Funded independently by Kenyan residents, the project also aims to protect the Diani Forest generally, a rich habitat which has been eroded by construction.

“It’s been four to five years since we had a Colobus in our care,” added Andrea.

“Thankfully we seem to have come up with a combination that is better than anything someone else has tried before, so fingers crossed.”