Outsmarting Monkeys 23rd May 2011

The two baby Langurs continue to be a full time job, but they play very well together even though Phooka is quite a bit bigger than Puck. Unfortunately my relief baby sitters have dwindled as the holiday season here ends, and the monsoon looms, bringing heavy rains for some 3 months. Both the temperature and the levels of humidity are getting uncomfortable and so the monsoon will bring some relief.

We have also had two sick monkeys to deal with. Shivani, a 3 year old female bonnet macaque suddenly fell seriously ill with a stomach problem which none of the treatments she was given seemed to help. We took her to the IAR rescue centre clinic for X-rays but they showed no reason for her discomfort. So we managed to arrange a scan at the local human hospital but that was also negative. However, after having caused us so much worry and effort, she started to respond to treatment and improve. She is now well on her way to going back with the rest of the troop and cannot wait to get out of the treatment pen which adjoins her enclosure.

The other patient got a bad bite from her male companion which has required a course of antibiotics. Nora, the monkey in question is very strong minded and daily injections have been a battle of wills, and she can find and spit out a crushed tablet in every tasty treat we have tried to hide it in. After days of frustration trying to get the tablets down her, John put one down near her to go and find something else to put it in when Nora simply picked it up and ate it! She obviously thought this was something she should not have so felt duty bound to steal it! John has tried it again and it worked but the question is for how long?

Although Nora and her companion Chives are both adults they are usually very good friends but with monkeys it only takes a tiff for wounds to be caused because their teeth are so sharp. Infection from a bite wound was found to be the main cause of death in a group of wild monkeys that were studied over several years.

The babies are fascinating to watch at play, which is lucky as I spend so much time doing just that! They are just like toddlers with their toys and food and immediately want what the other one has. During the day Puck is often too busy playing to stop for his bottle, but if I pretend to be drinking it, he usually comes running.

In other ways also they are very clued up and understand the tone of my voice immediately, whether its ‘stop doing that’ or ‘look what I have got.’ It surprised me however when the other night I picked up a cloth and an enormous cockroach, they are at least 2 inches long here, ran up my arm. As I gave out an involuntary squeak of fear, they both woke from sleep and rushed to me, running up to get on my shoulders and then checked out my face carefully to see what was wrong. It wasn’t there response to a scare themselves, if they hear fireworks or get a fright they run and cling to me for comfort but this time they understood it was me who had got the fright! A pretty clever grasp of a language I thought, from babies a few months old!


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