Monday 4 February 2019 will probably live long in the memory for New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady — as it was the day he lifted the Superbowl, the climax of American Football season, in Atlanta, Georgia. What he probably doesn’t know is 4 February 2019 is also the date that he became linked (in some small way) with a baby vervet monkey 8,000 miles away in Malawi.
When Ronit Walther and her family were travelling back into Lilongwe and spotted a group of children at the side of the road holding what appeared to be a small animal they pulled over to ask the kids what it was. What they found was a tiny, skinny, and malnourished baby vervet presumably being kept to be sold to passersby.
Ronit described the fragile monkey as cold, wet, and traumatised being held captive at the side of the road. So she and her husband decided to take action.
Together they managed to wrap the monkey in a t shirt and persuade the child holding it to let go. Bringing the monkey in from the rain and cold through the car window they set off to Lilongwe, headed straight for our rescue centre and sanctuary at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.
Ronit recounted that she was extremely concerned for the baby monkey’s health, appearing exhausted by his ordeal and incredibly tough first few weeks of life. The journey to our Wildlife Centre did however give Ronit and her family time to think of a name for their new passenger. And with Ronit’s husband being a New England Patriots fan — and it being Superbowl Sunday — what better name to take than that of the Patriots’ star player, Tom Brady.
Ronit was understandably concerned about how Tom, a traumatised and terrified wild animal would take to a long car journey — but she needn’t have worried. Tom spent the hour-long trip swaddled and resting in his t shirt and blanket, clearly feeling some sense of safety at last.
When he arrived at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre our vets and animal rehabilitation staff were on hand — as they are with all orphaned and injured animals that arrive there — to give Tom a health check and begin to administer the care and treatment he needed.
The early signs weren’t good for Tom unfortunately. He was underweight, with an irregular temperature, and refusing food and milk. His exposure to the elements as well as his separation from his mother and overwhelming anxiety were obviously taking their toll on Tom’s tiny and fragile body.
In order to get Tom the nutrients he needed, it took one member of our animal care team to feed him drop by drop every 45 minutes, an incredibly time consuming and labour intensive job. But our team’s dedication was about to pay off for Tom.
Slowly but surely Tom began show signs of recovery. He started to regain his strength, keep his food down, and became calm enough to sleep, which was absolutely vital for him to regain his strength.
Ten days on, Tom remains at our Wildlife Centre under close supervision, but he’s now on the road to growing into a happy, healthy vervet monkey. He will still need a lot of rehabilitation and care, and the next step will be to introduce him to a foster mother who can provide the comfort and support he needs as a baby.
Tom has a long way to go but our ambition is to always release animals back into the wild wherever we possibly can. That means that Tom Brady may yet be able to look forward to living out a full adult life in Malawi’s beautiful wild.
What you can do to help
The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust cares for every orphaned and injured wild animal that arrives at our Wildlife Centre because we believe in never giving up on protecting and supporting Malawi’s precious wildlife.
However, to do this work, we rely on the support of people who think like us, who want to stick up for Malawi’s animals and habitats.
If that sounds like you, maybe you will consider donating to us today. Every single gift we receive, large or small, goes straight to supporting our work.
So please consider donating today — and share this story with your friends!