Hand rearing any animal is a tough job so when we found out about baby Betsy – the longest surviving Black and White Angolan Colobus monkey to be hand reared – we were excited to be given the opportunity to visit Betsy and her handler, Andrea.
We were asked to create a follow on documentary to reflect on the progress that Betsy has made during her time at the Colobus Trust.
Betsy was taken in by Andrea and her partner, Keith when she was just 9 days old when unfortunately her mother could not be found. Baby Betsy was abandoned several times by various Black and White Angolan Colobus troops; in the end the staff of Colobus Trust had to intervene in order to save her life. Since Andrea and Keith took over the job of hand rearing Betsy they have overcome many difficulties. Due to Betsy’s age and her unique and unfortunate experience, alongside her demanding dietary requirements, bringing her up has been no easy task.
Firstly we met up with Andrea, whom we would be recording an interview with, in the office along with Betsy – whom we quickly found out was quite the character when meeting new people! The filming equipment appeared to be her favourite! Andrea told us about Betsy’s latest situation, as well as all the stories and information she had about the past 18 months. The interview was interrupted a few times by Betsy, it appeared that the only method to calm down her energetic mind is a little treat from her handler every now and then.
Apart from interviewing Andrea, our other task was to capture as many clips of Betsy’s activity as possible. When she jumped from one tree branch to another, her playfulness attracted some of the other monkeys that belong to the home troop around where the Colobus Trust is based. This is where someday in the future Andrea hopes to release Betsy into the wild.
Group leader Emily seemed to be Betsy’s favourite new friend; more than one time Betsy jumped on her shoulders and showed an interest in her camera. This made Emily’s work a little more difficult but at the same time very interesting.
For all of us, the making of this documentary was a rare and precious opportunity. Not only because as crew we got a chance to see a Colobus monkey in a close distance, but also that our production aims to raise more awareness of both Betsy and the rest of the amazing work that the Colobus Trust continues to do.
Update – October 2012: The documentary is now available on our YouTube channel, along with another video about the important tree species at the Colobus Trust (now Colobus Conservation):