24 March 2015

Monkey World

An Orangutan and I
The majority of my posts are about food and recipes I have created, but every so often I do something in my life that I just have to share with you all. As previously mentioned, for mothers day last weekend my mum and I visited Monkey World - a monkey sanctuary for monkey's all over the world and currently home of the Orangutan nursery for Europe. This experience was too great not to share and the last time I went to Monkey World I was two, so it's no surprise I didn't remember it - my mum however was amazed at how far it has come since last time and all the good they continue to do there.
Just Look at that Face!

I absolutely love animals,especially fluffy and cute ones, but it's not just how they look that draws me to them, animal behaviour is so telling and they show emotions just like us, which so many people fail to realise. My being vegan is because of my love of animals, I don't feel superior to them and believe they should be treated with the same love, care and respect and that wild animals should stay wild where possible. Most of the primates at Monkey World have been rescued from cruel pasts including being used as photographers props, animal testing as well as many having been rejceted from their mother's, simply because the mother was not around her mum at the time and did not learn the essential skills necessary to care for her child.

A bouquet of Greens
The biggest and closest group of the park is one of the four chimpanzee groups; despite having a mostly non-breeding policy at the park to make room for more rescues, there has been two babies among this group of great apes, which the keepers use to explain the closeness. All monkeys have a ranking order and this is very interesting to witness; it comes into play with eating but also if one animal gets slightly out of line. Later in the day at the park one of the groups of primates got really loud, the largest one of the group at the top of the apparatus, bellowing out, this in turn set most of the other groups off and I have never seen anything like it. It was a case of who could make the most noise; we were standing by the chimpanzees when this occurred and I have never been so glad for a fence in my life; if there were no barrier it would have been a truly terrifying experience, but instead it was the apes exhibiting extremely natural behaviour of defending their own territory. During this time, within the groups, some of the higher ranking chimps also told off the lower ranking ones, with an attempt to restore order. 

Until visiting Monkey World I had never realised how much I loved orangutans, they have huge personalities - especially the baby ones they're also ginger, long haired and completely breathtaking. In the nursery there were two baby ones, which were so incredibly playful with one another, they were tumbling all over each other and just acting like typical siblings, it was amazing to witness and despite a lot of time trying I couldn't get a picture of them being still! There was another baby one outside that appeared to be playing "peek-a-boo" with a sheet over its head, trying to get a reaction out of the public and it certainly worked! This particular orangutan knew it was loved! Just before closing we went to another orangutan enclosure where one orangutan was sitting by the glass (they always have access to outside but it was a bit cold then), for over 10 minutes I was looking at this amazing creature, who kept smiling and staring at me and even putting her fingers up to the glass, eventually I realised that this would be a great photo opportunity and she happily sat there and posed for photos - despite maybe looking a bit grumpy in them. 
Deep in Thought
Orangutans, sadly are endangered animals, so much of this is due to trade of paper and palm oil meaning their natural habitat is being destroyed. Sadly orangutans are also taken for the pet trade and consumption. Things you can do to help these amazing creatures include making sure you don't buy palm oil unless it specifically states its from a sustainable source and always buying paper products that are recycled or have the FSC label, ensuring the products come from responsible sources. Palm oil seems to be in everything these days and this is because of the recent changes to the EU law, where palm oil can no longer be labelled under "vegetable oil" but must be identified as its own ingredient - making us aware of all the palm oil that is actually being used. The main sources include bread, wholewheat wraps, biscuits and peanut butter and though it might be a "pain" to have to look through all these products and even find alternatives to your favourite products - think of the impact palm oil production is having on the environment and these fantastic creatures. 
Play Time in the Nursery
There was one group of smaller monkeys that whilst observing we instantly noticed their peculiar behaviour; the behaviour of these primates was extremely repetitive and was followed with a bizarre head twist before they would change direction. Speaking to one of the staff about this, we were informed that a large majority of these creatures were creatures that had spent 15-20 years in a small crate in a lab where they were experimented on, which was absolutely heart breaking to hear and I almost had tears in my eyes; to think that human behaviour could have caused this never ending unease among the monkeys. However, these particular monkey's did also exhibit some extremely "cheeky" behaviour; between the inside and outside enclosures there is a mesh run, allowing the monkey's to go between the inside and out. When walking past we noticed two of these monkeys sitting there and attempting to drop thier own faeces onto the passers by, this was accompanied by an extra cheeky grin to each other and then repeating it again - these monkey's found it hilarious but from what I saw luckily they didn't manage to hit anyone!
Cheeky Monkeys
Monkey world is a safe place for these amazing creatures; they have a great place to live with primates of their own kind and plenty of space. The primates are also given little challenges when it comes to thier food - the food itself is extremely varied so the animals do not get bored, but it is also scattered to make them forrage, with things like dog 'kongs' and puzzle boxes used to create a challenge for the apes. Natural behaviour is exhibited throughout daily life which is quite a rare thing to see for animals in captivity. If you get the chance to visit monkey world - or any animal sanctuary for that matter I would highly recommend it, it was amazing to see the great work they do there and have a chance to be up close to the animals. The keepers each have a scheduled talk about their group of monkeys which tells you all about the animals as a species but as well as those they have at the park and where they came from, whilst also explaining how you can help them. If you can't visit monkey world but would like to know more about it, they have a series out called "Monkey Life" which shows the day-day life in the park and caring for the animals and is definitely worth watching. 
"How many carrots can I grab?"

What you can do to help: