In Sultry Mexico, Monkeys Fall 'Out of the Trees Like Apples'

More than 157 howler monkeys have perished in state of Tabasco due to heat wave
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2024 7:49 AM CDT
Updated May 28, 2024 1:30 AM CDT
In Sultry Mexico, Monkeys Fall 'Out of the Trees Like Apples'
A veterinarian feeds a young howler monkey rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolutilla, in Mexico's Tabasco state, on 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)
UPDATE May 28, 2024 1:30 AM CDT

The number of heat-related howler monkey deaths in Mexico has risen to 157, the government said, with a tragically small number of the primates treated or recovering, the AP reports. Meanwhile, an animal park in northern Mexico confirmed it has received reports that at least a hundred parrots, bats and other animals have died, apparently of dehydration. A heat dome—an area of strong high pressure centered over the southern Gulf of Mexico and northern Central America—has blocked clouds from forming and caused extensive sunshine and hot temperatures all across Mexico. "We've never seen a situation like what's happening right now," says the director of the animal park, adding if they see more heat peaks like this one "there is not going to be much we can do for the animals."

May 22, 2024 7:49 AM CDT

It's so hot in Mexico that howler monkeys are falling dead from the trees. At least 83 of the midsize primates, who are known for their roaring vocal calls, have been found dead in the Gulf Coast state of Tabasco. Others were rescued by residents, including five that were rushed to a local veterinarian who battled to save them. "They arrived in critical condition, with dehydration and fever," said Dr. Sergio Valenzuela, per the AP. "They were as limp as rags. It was heatstroke." While Mexico's brutal heat wave has been linked to the deaths of at least 26 people since March, veterinarians and rescuers say it has killed dozens and perhaps hundreds of howler monkeys.

Valenzuela put ice on their limp hands and feet, then hooked them up to IV drips with electrolytes. The monkeys appear to be on the mend. Once listless and easily handled, now "they're aggressive ... they're biting again," he said, noting that's a healthy sign for the usually furtive creatures. Most aren't so lucky. Wildlife biologist Gilberto Pozo counted 83 of the animals dead or dying on the ground under trees. The die-off started around May 5 and hit its peak over the weekend. "They were falling out of the trees like apples," Pozo said. "They were in a state of severe dehydration, and they died within a matter of minutes." Already weakened, Pozo says the falls from dozens of yards up inflict additional damage that often finishes the monkeys off.

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Pozo attributes the deaths to a "synergy" of factors, including high heat, drought, forest fires, and logging that deprives the monkeys of water, shade, and the fruit they eat. "This is a sentinel species," Pozo says, referring to the canary-in-a-coal mine effect where one species can say a lot about an ecosystem. "It is telling us something about what is happening with climate change." More here.

(More Mexico stories.)

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