Female spider monkey with her infant foraging on Brosimum alicastrum leaves at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve
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Monday July 29, 2019

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Runaway Creek is a rainforest preserve of immeasurable ecological value, historical significance and aesthetic beauty, tucked deep in the limestone karst hills of Belize. Over 6,000 acres of untouched savanna and dense rainforest harbor more than 128 species of animals, 315 species of birds, 4 species of large cats, and various other fauna. Innumerable plants, two rivers, and twenty-four caves also call the idyllic park home. While small relative to some international and government-run preserves, the spirit of Runaway Creek resonates within every staff member, researcher, and wide-eyed visitor who sets foot on its unspoiled lands.
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Female spider monkey with her infant foraging on Brosimum alicastrum leaves at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve

Note the infant's pink fingers- at Runaway Creek, about 15% of the spider monkeys are born with patches of pink pigmentation on their hands and/or feet.

The main threat to the endangered Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis) is the pet trade and deforestation.

The spider monkey has long thin arms, legs and tail, its body is 3-5 feet long and can weigh up to 20 lbs. It is a diurnal and social animal living in groups of 20-42 individuals inhabiting the rainforests of Belize.

It prefers the tree tops. Its prehensile tail, used as a fifth limb, supports its life of swinging between trees looking for fruits, nuts, leaves and flowers. As a frugivorous primate, feeding on fruits, the spider monkey plays a vital role of seed dispersal across the forest landscape.

Spider monkeys require a wide, unbroken forest to thrive. They would defend their troops, sometimes up to 40 individuals, with barks, other projected vocalizations and shaking tree branches.

Spider monkeys are good indicators of healthy forest cover. You can often spot these primates hanging around the tree tops.

Photograph by Kayla Hartwell

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