Thursday, December 04, 2008

this entry not suitable for maimouphobes

Thanksgiving vacation was not without its challenges, but there were some great things about it too: spending time with G and his family, getting my feed on hardcore, and a glorious day at Monkey Jungle.

I was afraid the place would reek of shit and despair and contain only a few cages of sad, mangy monkeys. My fears only increased when I saw the people in the parking lot; I don't think there have been that many mullets in one place since a Billy Ray Cyrus concert, circa 1992.

But once we'd paid the exorbitant entrance fee ($30 for adults, and since they considered children over the age of 9 to be adults, that meant $150 for all of us to get in, plus money to feed both ourselves and the monkeys) and stepped through the doorway, I was pretty much in heaven. Monkeys and apes are my favorite part of any zoo, so this was like the best zoo ever for me.

Quick note before I begin: all of the following pictures were taken by Padre. He's a professional photographer with a camera that's only slightly smaller than my car, and I only had my cell phone camera with me, so I decided to leave the picture taking to him. I'm glad I did, too, because some of these pictures are gorgeous. All photographs copyrighted to Padre under his real name, all rights reserved, etc. They're kind of big, but I tried making them smaller and lost a LOT of detail.

The park's whole schtick is "Where humans are caged and monkeys run free", which basically translated to large wire enclosures for people to walk through as monkeys scampered overhead. At regular intervals, you'd find a food bowl hanging from a chain, which you could fill with raisins. The monkey would then pull the bowl up and retrieve the treats.

A mama macaque shows her baby how it's done.


Why yes, little cotton-topped tamarins, you can has raisin! He touched my finger when he took it from me, and I just about swooned because I am a monkey lovin' FOOL.

There was a big swimming hole where the monkeys congregated, and a guide threw fruit and hardboiled eggs into the water for them to eat.

Homage to Rodin.

Voracious squirrel monkeys. There were dozens of them scampering on the wiring above our heads as well, so we were really careful where we stood. Nobody in our party got crapped/whizzed on, but some other dude did. He was wearing a Travis Tritt shirt, so it was funny.

Much to our surprise, Monkey Jungle didn't reek at all...except for these mandrills. They were uber-funky.

Mei the orangutan. She blew kisses, did pull ups, and signed "I love you".

King the gorilla. He did a couple of tricks for us, and as a reward, his trainer threw him a bottle of iced tea. I expected him to bite off the cap, but he daintily untwisted the cap, drank the contents down in one gulp, and threw the bottle over his shoulder.

G's favorite animal: the ring-tailed lemur.

There was also a cage full of gibbons, but they were swinging so enthusiastically around their enclosure that Padre didn't get a good shot. One of them was just a baby, and occasionally he'd stop, climb onto the wire, and make a hooting noise that had me chewing on my knuckles to keep from screaming with glee. He was so cute you'd think the Japanese made him.

So, in conclusion, if you find yourself in Florida and you like monkeys even a little bit, Monkey Jungle is well worth the money. That shit was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S, and we all loved it.

Ah, there anything you can't do?