Upgraded! We are all monkey business!

After two months of doing dishes and preparing food on Sundays but mostly cleaning parrot shit, parakeet shit, toucan shit, brown-booby shit, pelican shit and deer shit, (been there-done that- kind of job) we have finally been upgraded to …….monkey shit!!.

I am sooooo happy that I have been walking on my tiptoes the last couple of days! Now, I am not only challenged by cleaning a different type of shit but, I am also shitted all over my body by baby monkeys. Ready for the weirdest part? I like it. 

Not the being-shitted part…that I could live without, but the working with the baby-monkeys part. Du-huh! In the meantime, Frank has been upgraded to teenager monkey business. 

Somehow, during the week in which we were on ”holidays”, the center had decided that they could not keep up with the policy of “no-volunteers” working with the monkeys. Or better said, no new volunteers working with the monkeys, because the old volunteers were working with the monkeys on a daily basis since we arrived. Basically, the old volunteers left and ….they need more hands. So, overnight we were upgraded to monkey business. 

I have now been sitting with the baby monkeys for two days. The baby howler monkeys. They are all in an enclosure, enriched with a network of branches and cords so they can play around. Our roll in the enclosure is to provide them security and a safe place to sleep. Much like a human baby. They play, eat and shit around but come back to you constantly for comfort. 

The reason why so many of these baby monkeys arrive at the center is quite sad, actually. Usually their mothers are electrocuted with the electricity cables, runover by a car or attacked by a dog…and the baby monkeys stay hanging from their dead mum until someone rescues them. So, we act as their surrogate mothers, giving them the body warmth, comfort and company that their mum will give them in normal circumstances. 

It is super interesting to see how they interact with each other and with me. And their different personalities: the independent, the whining [the only guy btw….], the cuddly, the dominant. They can be playing around, minding their own businesses as if I was not there. But the moment that I move an inch to change my posture, they all come and jump on me. Just like in nature. When mamma monkey is on the move, you’d better make sure that you are tightly secured to her. 

It is also fascinating to see how they use their tail. The inner bottom part of the tail has no hair, just to allow a better grip. Monkeys seem to know naturally how much tension to put in the tail depending on the circumstances. When I am on the move and they hold on me, they wrap their tail very gently around my neck or arms. As a safety net, I suppose, while they hold on me with their hands. But, if they are hanging upside-down from a branch, only from their tail, you need all the strength you can muster to pull them out, if you wish to do so. 

Another interesting thing is how to move a monkey. With a human baby, you would hold the baby from the armpits (when the head is strong enough) or holding the head and the body. With a baby monkey you hold them or pull them by the tail if you need to remove them from you!! I guess that the tail is their best grip and once that you remove that from wherever they are holding to, it is easier to get the rest of the monkey out.    

They seem to know naturally that mama monkey would not appreciate if you poo or pee on her…so they generally move away a bit, to do what they need to do.  Unless they are sick or they want to make a point. I have had experience with both. The first day of baby-sitting, one of the baby monkeys was feeling….lets say indisposed. So, I ended the day smelling …hummm not so nicely. In those cases, some of the baby monkeys wear pampers some parts of the day. I was not so lucky that day. Funny bit is that they are baby-human pampers – for premature babies- in which the staff makes a hole for the tail ;-). 

But monkeys also throw their poo to their enemies when they are annoyed. To make a point. Guess that one of the largest monkeys was not so pleased when I stopped her from bullying the smallest ones in the group….oooops!’

So, now I know that there is something worse than smelling like a monkey….Smelling like monkey poo! 

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