Sunday, 23 August 2009

Squiggle Minkies

No, you're quite right, these are aardvarks, not squirrel monkeys! They're just here for fun.

Most of my 'constant readers' *snort!* will know that I volunteer at the zoo. It can be a mixed blessing, especially being team leader, but most of the time it yields experiences that remind you why you do it.

Today was one such day, it was hot as hell, the baby lion cubs have just been spread over the papers and so there were plenty of people in, and I had 10 volunteers.....count them....T E N!! (they did a fab job, always harder when there are less people in) And, AND, I had 2 half hour sessions solo in squirrel monkeys.

Squirrel monkeys is notorious, those little critters are either running round and stealing cameras, causing general havoc, or they're hiding away where no one can see them and it's very disappointing for visitors. SM is one of those exhibits that gets my blood pressure up, I have been known to grab a child by the back of his trousers and suspend him in the air whilst bellowing 'WHOSE CHILD IS THIS???!!!'. Needless to say noone owned up to being the bearer of the noxious little troll.


I was VERY lucky today, considering I was by myself, it was one of those quiet days. The sun was out and very intense, the minkies don't like this. They also don't like wind or heavy rain...divas. It was very quiet for my first stint and they only came out towards the end of the shift. The worst thing when it's quiet is the pigeon-teases. There are 2 or 3 hefty wood pigeons that stroll through the undergrowth making monkey-esque noises. It's really rather embarrassing when you have to keep saying 'actually....I think you'll find that's a pigeon....'. One of my personal favouries during this quiet time is the 'don't you HAVE any monkeys then??' accompanied by a hands on hips and frown. Today I replied:

'No. It's a little-known fact that the Zoo don't, in fact, have any monkeys in their monkey enclosures. But we DO employ these kindly pigeon-folk to walk around and rustle the's soo much cheaper. Move along now...thank you :)'

Ok, no, I didn't really...I REALLY wanted to though :(

One of the best things about squirrel monkeys at the moment is the baby. She is adorable, she was adorable when she was clinging onto mummy, but she's even better now she's making her own way around. She's the one who gave me my 'this is all worth it' moment for today when I returned for my second shift in the afternoon.

She's not quite confident enough to get on the ropes yet, so she moves around using the bushes that are thick in squirrel monkeys, you always see her following the others around. Today, at about 5pm, the monkeys were fed indoors, not all of them were out, but those that were made some loud squeals and ran straight indoors. About 30 seconds later you could hear the rustling, and the bushes moving ever so slightly, and there she was. Still not entirely sure of her footing she was wobbling from one branch to another, tripping, falling and swinging through the branches of the bushes in an effort to catch up with mum and the other girls. There were a couple of moments when I thought she'd end up on the floor, but she made it in the end. All I could think of was that little rhino at the end of the stampede in Jumanji, the one that can't quite keep up.

Ahhhh, it did make me smile :)

Image Cred Caroline Stocks

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