Primates on the Brain

Because of a book I read (The One and Only Ivan) and a recent visit to the zoo, I have primates on the brain and thought I’d share a few pictures from the Patas monkey exhibit at the zoo.

If you live in Idaho, you probably heard about the drunken idiot (there are stronger words I could use) who broke into Zoo Boise and beat one of our Patas monkeys to death. Our zoo is a small one, although a very nice one, and this random act of violence halved our population of Patas monkeys — an especially grievous situation, because they’re a very social species. Responding to concerns that the surviving monkey might not fare well in solitude, a zoo in New York donated two Patas monkeys to be companions.

The city donated $100,000 to create a new, more secure enclosure for the trio of monkeys.

And then, in the first week of October, the three monkeys suddenly became four.

And later that same week: five! Those monkeys got right down to business!

I was at the zoo on October 26 and went by the Patas enclosure, which had been reopened but wasn’t being cleaned as often in an effort to minimize disruptions and tension for the young family. I was so glad that I remembered to go by, because after a few minutes the two mama monkeys turned around and displayed their babies!

2 mother Patas monkeys with babies

I’m not going to lie; my heart melted. It’s pretty much impossible not to see the relationship between monkey-primates and people-primates when you see the way that these mothers cradled and nursed their babies, how the babies clung to their mothers and looked up at them wonderingly.

Of course, people-primates generally don’t trust that their babies will keep clinging to them as they gallop up rocks on all fours, but then again we have a lot less body hair.

After a little while, one of the babies stopped eating and looked around. It (they don’t know the babies’ genders yet) had such a dear little face, that sort of stereotypical Curious George monkey face.

A clearer picture (if you click on the links above about the baby monkeys, you can see some much better photographs than these I tried to take through thick glass):

Patas monkey mothers and infants

The protective father, Incus, stands between the audience and his family:

Father Patas monkey father Patas monkey

It was really a pretty magical moment. Not a particularly unique one, I’m sure; they didn’t seem concerned about hiding the babies from the public, and there were a LOT of people at the zoo that day. But as I stood there, holding my own little (hungry) baby, it definitely gave me a case of the feels. I’m not sure how much longer my body is going to let me keep up with nursing (I’m having a big drop in supply) but it is such a precious, good thing for H and myself. And look how we are connected to the world!

Then I read The One and Only Ivan, which is a beautiful addition to the genre of “using anthropomorphism to gain sympathy for animal rights,” and yeah. Primates.

What’s on your mind lately?

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