My Time With Rhesus Macaque Monkeys
my time with rhesus macaque monkeys
My first inspired unplanned Blog Post
i began to write
and my time with the macaques chose to be expressed
I once worked for a man who had Rhesus Macaque Monkeys. Two of them. A Mother & A Son.
I was brought on to help improve the conditions of the private park, as the owner was getting on in years, and his loyal and life-long staff were gradually disappearing. I was filled in by the manager that the place was having a hard time finding appropriate replacements for the original animal-loving crew. At this point, they were hiring entry level labor, desperate to fulfill the physical demands of running an outdoor animal park (feeding, cleaning stalls, pasture rotation, for very large mammals).
These two jobs, the brains and the brawn, ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT.
I was excited for this new opportunity, which actually came very serendipitously (story for another time). I was scared, no doubt. I had worked with primates before. I had worked with zebras before. I had NOT worked with bison before. And I had worked with farm animals before. Having past experience with these magnificent creatures did not quell my fears, instead it informed me of which fears to have and why.
I was introduced to the Rhesus Macaques on the first day.
Their enclosure was a tall narrow chain link fence structure. (probably 4ft W x 6ft D x 12ft H or 4 ft wide x 6 ft long x 12 ft tall) The ground was cement, without drainage—the cement floor was hosed, and the feces and food built up around the perimeter of the enclosure, causing a horrid stench. In the middle of the rectangular enclosure was one pole with two perches. On the ground was a milk crate sized box for sitting, which only accommodated one monkey at a time. From the chain-link enclosure, a covered exterior tunnel connected to a sort of den for the monkeys to go and hide when they wanted to hide. Their “indoor” “hiding” area was roughly the dimensions of a two-person camping tent. AM Radio was constantly playing “for the monkeys.”
I bet…nothing I tell you next will come as a surprise.
Both of the monkeys were mentally deranged. The younger son was more active, but scared and violent. Sometimes, he would misdirect his violence on to his mother (the only other living being around) when he was stressed out or startled. The only reason I say misdirect is because it did seem this way. Also, 99% of the time, they were co-dependently latched. The mother was quiet and timid. She had developed this depressing tick of constantly rubbing the top of one hand; to the point that no fur could grow there. She seemed to have had a full psychotic break. The son was taking care of her. His youth was all that was protecting him from disassociating like his mother. It hurt to watch him desire and attempt to interact with the world, tend to his ill mother, and cope with the daily onslaught of bullshit—all three, all day, every day. They both exhibited hospitalization level distress. They reflected humans in many ways (of course)
Sometimes, the younger monkey wanted to interact with us. We were allowed to feed them treats and calmly spend time with them. I enjoyed sitting at the bench placed outside of the enclosure and “vibing” to the monkeys “peace, pacifism” and “contagious confidence and calm.”
Almost every aspect of the Husbandry of the Rhesus Macaques was unacceptable.
I was given the whole back-story of the macaques and the man that owned them; how much he loved them. There was no reason not to believe it. I do not think that cruelty played a hand in this situation, simply a true and utter lack of education (along with a blind third eye and physical ailment). Eventually, the excuses do run out though. If you own two monkeys, and they are the loves of your life, wouldn’t you read up on how to best house them? Wouldn’t you read up on what it is that they like? What it is that they don’t like?
I assumed that surely, as all the facts were laid out to me ahead of time, i.e.
the man was becoming too feeble to upkeep his animal farm
they had lost their qualified employees
I was introduced to the monkeys in the same conversation I was offered the job
my very background was in wildlife animal husbandry, with a personal passion for enrichment
I assumed that surely my job was going to be to FIX THIS.
A Quick Window:
Foregoing anecdotes for now—This is one moment in time: dialogue: that stunned me, and answered everything.
When I suggested putting plants into their enclosure, it was denied. When I suggested putting artificial plants into their enclosure, it was denied. When I mentioned the drainage, I was finally told “these are his babies, he does not want anything to be changed.”
Let That Sink In
“THESE ARE HIS BABIES, HE DOES NOT WANT ANYTHING TO BE CHANGED.”
More On This & More Tales of The Rhesus Macaques To Come
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