Susan: Australian but hasn’t live in Aus for about 30 years give or take.
Yuki: Japanese partner, yoga aficionado
On: 19, Burmese refugee who doesn’t officially exist in Thailand (or in Burma for that matter). Speaks Lahu, English, Thai (and Shan maybe?). Teaching himself to read Thai, play the guitar. Amazing DIYer, made his own tattoo machine and then gave all the neighborhood kids tattoos (yes, real ones) much to Susan’s horror . Currently building a guest bathroom outside our hut. Sleeps with Pinky the monkey at night.
Shu-Wai: 16, Lahu boy, primary charge is Poppy the monkey. He’s a bit ‘dark’ (inside, not out) and lost, lots of teenaged angst but a good kid. Mother is around somewhere (actual village unknown) but left him and his brother to fend for themselves, she turns up occasionally.
Shu: Shu-Wai’s 14 year old brother. Animal expert. Friendly, smiley. Looks after Peter the monkey at night. Adopts stray dogs, chickens, has numerous guppies and tadpoles. Currently whipping Dylan’s arse in a game of dominos.
Ume: Is also Lahu I think. Aged approximately 12. Glue addict but seems to be getting on top of it with the constant support and encouragement from Susan. Had been gone for 2 weeks when we arrived (New Year in his village) but not sniffed glue the entire time which is great. Totally unable to count (glue has frazzled his brain cells). Recently stole Shu-Wai’s bike and sold it. Duties; feeding dogs and cats. His father popped around yesterday for a visit and a haircut and Ume took off with his Dad’s bicycle and hasn’t been seen since (it seems Ume cannot be trusted with ANY bicycle). Ume is the poster-child for the issues that surround hill-tribes in this area, we'll talk more on this later.
That’s it for the humans in the house apart from the Musa (lahu) kids who come to visit walking down from the village on the hill, the Thai kids who come to look at the monkeys, the sticky-beaking monks and let’s not forget the 30 odd Thai soldiers who wandered through the other day in search of illegal charcoal burners.
So, some of the animals who live here, in no particular order:
John: Australian cattle-dog, brought out to Thailand years ago but left behind when his owner went back to Aus. He’s old, almost completely deaf and walks like an old man. Suffers terribly from mange despite having every cure known to man-kind tried out on him, no immunity probably as he’s not from here.
Mi: Black female dog, log-shaped due to anti-puppy hormones. Very friendly, ran away from wherever and gradually insinuated herself into the household, meter by meter from the road, Shu fed her despite being asked not to.
Puss and Pie: Mother and daughter cats who share a serious addiction to cat cookies .
Joi: Monkey number one in more ways than one, first Susan ever had and alpha monkey which means he’s in charge. Beautiful beautiful face. Almost always cool, calm and collected. Sulks if he doesn’t get a banana for breakfast. Pig-tail macaque.
Ah Son: As good looking as Joi and almost as big. Features in my memory for biting me nearly 3 years ago and scaring the bejeezus out of me, he was only small then, lucky for me because he’s huge now! Another pig-tail.
Sham Penn: pretty female monkey but always seems a little ‘stuck up’, wary of her but she’s good to watch from a distance. The only person who can deal with her is On, everyone else will land a bite. (Pig Tail)
Ai: Has a bent hand but is still in charge (top-female). Doesn’t like me much and paces whenever I’m hanging around. In fact she apparently doesn’t like any blonde female, which is funny because my hair is currently dark but maybe she remembers from last time? (Pig Tail)
Nong-Nii: Had a calcium defiancy as a baby so now is small with short legs and wonky teeth but a nice face. She’s narky at night and will bite anyone except Susan or Yuki who gets too close. Still sleeps with Susan at night. Loves spaghetti. At night she’s in the house and in between the kitchen and the dining area where she paces back and forth and glares balefully at anyone who tries to get past, effectively trapping them. Dylan got one bite on his ankle and now has a funky bruise which shows each separate tooth. (pig tail, albeit a small one!)
Mongarbi: The lone black white-handed gibbon. Recently unwell so has been moping around but better today. Went for a swing and I heard him singing this morning (you’ve not heard anything cool until you’ve heard a gibbon in full voice). Gibbons have the most hopeless record of rehabilitation in the wild, only about 7% survive. Gibbon species are endemic/allopatric to their areas, ie they have their one patch and no-where else making them especially vulnerable as once they’re gone there are none of their species anywhere else. Gibbons are primates like us, not monkeys by the way
Mot: Has picked out all of the hairs on the left side of her face and shoulders when grooming making for one funny looking monkey! (pig tail I think)
Lucy and Marli: Two girls that arrived together looking like twins as their mothers were shot at the same time. Behave like collaborators in crime most of the time (species unknown, Marli may be Assamese, Lucy no idea)
ET: the lone 'definate' Assamese (sp?) macaque, chubby and fluffy. Has to be given water every day as he breaks any tap put into his cage. Eats three times faster than anyone else.
Mother and Bebe: Mother and daughter as you may have sussed out already, Bebe has an extra big bum and both have an endearing way of wiggling their eyebrows when they get their milk in the morning, Bebe wiggles hers at a faster rate than Mother. (yet more pig-tail macaques)
Grumpy: Fights terribly whenever he’s in the same cage as anyone else, was put into his own cage where he proceeded to fight through the wires with the monkeys next door, so extra fine wire was put up to stop him hurting anyone or being hurt. Rhesus macaque.
The ‘family’: Wani, Eck, Kinni, Lanni (and Sunny), a group of funny looking monkeys more wrinkled and smaller than the pig-tails, they’re also Rhesus macaques, all the young ones were born here.The babies:
Peter: Very cute, extra cuddly, banana-snatcher extraordinaire. Has a bullet in his abdominal cavity from when his mother was shot. Bent tail-tip probably from the same incident. Extra squeaky and talkative. Possibly Assamese like ET. Holds record for 'most photographed monkey' by dylan and I.
Sunny: Born here, very small because she doesn’t eat fast enough and gets her food pinched. A bit shy but will come and sit with you if you are quiet enough. Tail looks like a squirrel due to her mother’s over-enthusiastic grooming, nearly bare at the base but fluffy at the tip! Is determined to relieve me of my glasses before I leave, when I wouldn’t let her have them she pulled my hair and poked me in the eye . Yesterday she peed on me, making me the first person to ever be peed on by Sunny as far as Susan knows, lucky me! You wouldn’t have thought a tiny baby monkey would have such a large bladder capacity . Rhesus macaque.
Pinky: Most monkeys get a pink face when they are upset, Pinky has a pink face ALL the time even when she’s perfectly happy. However, she’s also highly-strung and will fly off the handle really easily so she gets into fights a lot and needs lots of cuddles. Today she’s in the boys' cage (with Ah Son and Joi) and seems happy there, they ignore her, she ignores them. Seems to be working quite well as opposed to the constant fights in the babies cage. Has a strange short tail that we don’t know if it’s normal or not, so we don’t know what type of monkey she is.
Poppy: opposite of Pinky, never gets a pink face no matter how mad she is! Loves to run up to people and hold onto their ankles and sit on their feet when they are walking. Poppy also has a strange stubby tail identical to Pinky’s, so sp. Unknown.
Jojo and Jimmy: The big kids of the babies, older, faster, sneakier. Too big to go out on their own now. Pig-tail macaque.
There’s also 3 geese, assorted ducks and chickens, fish, frogs and tadpoles and as of this morning, an owl which was brought here by a woman hoping it would be looked after. This being a monkey sanctuary we’ve spent the morning googling ‘owl care’ hoping to work out how on earth to look after this bird.