Monkeys at an ecological park in Argentina are being treated for depression following the death of two of the oldest females in their group.
The black howlers had to be given medication because they refused to eat, it was reported.
Two alpha females died a year and a half ago from natural causes at the Rio Cuarto Urban Ecological Park, which is 400 miles west of Buenos Aires.
(File picture) Black howling monkeys at an ecological park in Argentina are being treated for depression following the death of two of the oldest females in their group. A male is pictured here
From that moment 'their male companions began suffering depression and four let themselves die of sadness,' park director Miriam Rodriguez told Clarin newspaper.
The black howler monkeys in this 30-acre park 'live in a group and are very close to one another,' Rodriguez said.
'When the females died, we noticed the others behaving oddly, but we thought it might have been something they ate.'
Concerned about their lethargy and refusal to eat, park officials consulted specialists at the nearby Cordoba Zoo, who told them 'the animals could be going through a phase of acute depression,' Rodriguez said.
(File picture) A female black howler monkey with a baby
After several analyses, psychiatrist Sergio Castillo confirmed the diagnosis of depression and two months ago prescribed a treatment based on sertraline.
Veterinarian Ezequiel Carrizo described it as 'a mineral derived from the serotonin used in humans to reverse different symptoms originating from compulsive disorders or depression'.
There was initially some resistance to the treatment since it seemed 'ridiculous to give them anti-depression medication even if it was only a minimum dose,' Rodriguez said.
He added that 'it has begun to raise the monkeys' spirits'.
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