Thursday, April 6, 2006

Monkey Madness 27-01-2006

Imagine your average toddler. Feed them something guaranteed to make them over-excited and hyperactive (red cordial, coffee, coca cola whatever), shrink them, cover them with fur and give them the ability to climb the walls and then you have something like a monkey.
Watching the monkeys I think they're like humans but sped up, they behave like we would like to be able to behave (sometimes), how great would it be to be having an argument with someone and so you just bite them? Ok maybe not, but it's fun to think of it.
This is the 'Monkey Sanctuary' and it's not an official organisation.
The pet trade is big in Thailand. People go out into the forest and shoot the monkeys to eat and then sell the babies. A lot of those baby monkeys have ended up here, at Susan's house (Susan is my mother's husband's sister).. She does NOT buy monkeys as it encourages people to shoot more. Some monkeys are also here as their owners are unable to look after them for whatever reason (basically because a full time job and a monkey do not match).
The little ones (the 3 smallest bar one) spend their time between a large cage or running loose. The very smallest one, Sunny was born here and is easily able to fit through the bars of the cage so she spends her days going from cage to cage getting groomed by everyone and pestering the humans. She's not as tame as the other smaller monkeys so you don't pick her up but she'll come to you.
Baby monkeys need a lot of care, like human babies they dont know how to care for themselves, they dont know what is dangerous and what is not and get frightened at night.
There are quite a few monkeys, adolescents and some of the younger adults who wear belts around their waists which get clipped to long leads and attached to a bamboo run for part of the day so they're not in cages all the time.The cages are very large and tall with plenty of runs, huts, ropes, baskets and so on inside them to keep the monkeys entertained, there are passageways between most of the cages so the monkeys can been moved from one to another when neccessarily. Of course, the cages are not big enough for wild animals but a cage never is. Still, they are as big as could be made, world class.
It's one big sort-of-family here, which means like most familys there are many noisy arguments, hair pulling, biting and squabbling and cuddles afterwards. Surprisingly, species is not a boundary to a relationship. The dogs get groomed by the monkeys, the cats and dogs share food, monkeys and humans share beds and chickens and ducks get chased by monkeys.You could never set out to have this kind of life-style, you just fall into it I think.
There are also 4 hilltribe boys living here who kind of don't have anywhere else to go. Susan took them in years ago. They have their own huts and kitchens and they help with the monkeys (nobody can look after 23 monkeys and a gibbon on their own!). I'll talk more about hilltribes later, it's all very interesting.
So now that you have an idea what the deal is - although a bit of a run down doesn't do this place justice at all and it's very hard to explain in a western sort of context.

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