This post is literally pulled from my journal from my time volunteering at the La Senda Verde Animal Rescue Centre in Bolivia.
A black tail rose above the dining table as the volunteers ate breakfast in the restaurant.
As I stared at the tail and started wondering which dog had a black tail a pair of hands reached onto the table and up swung Wara, an adult female black spider monkey.
For a second everyone just stared at her until she dunked her head into the student vets cereal and suddenly everyone was up standing and shouting ‘Wara no. no get out!’ as some people tried to get her outside, others grabbed at breakfast bowls desperately trying to stop her from ruining everyone’s meal.
Finally she ran back outside long black arms flailing in the air.
Ironically just that morning I had been sitting outside the restaurant unusually early for our morning tea and coffee before work thinking how quiet and calm it was as most of the animals were still asleep.
This was a sign of things to come today as the spider monkeys were out to try and cause all sorts of mischief.
Not satisfied to break into the restaurant twice, Wara then followed me around as I cleaned out the turtle and tortoise enclosures, pooed in their clean pool and stole their food as I laid it out.
She even pushed a tortoise aside so she could grab a piece of cucumber.
After I chased her out of the turtle enclosure where she was attempting the same thing I found her snoozing on the bridge to the bear enclosure in the sun and she opened one eye as I went past as if to say, ‘oh hello nothing to see here.’
One of the tortoise enclosures is currently being enlarged and as the bricks were being laid out onto the concrete two of the baby howler and spider monkeys, Canolla and Cinesa jumped down from the tree they had been playing in and started to push the bricks over.
The man laying the bricks was starting to get frustrated as this happened numerous times so we had to try and distract them, its like having toddlers.
The monkeys certainly rule the place here and it is so great to see the trees start to shake as the spider and howler monkeys come down the hill each morning to play in the trees throughout the main park area.
The spider monkeys have evolved to have only four fingers on their front hands due to the amount of time they spend swinging through trees and are super fast.
The red howler monkey Alpha sends out his call morning and night to alert any other howlers that this is his territory and to assemble his troupe.
It sounds to me like an aeroplane flying overhead it is such a strange and loud sound. Having a monkey place its hand in yours always makes me stop for a moment.
Their hands look almost identical to mine and it reminds me that we are so closely related.
Yesterday I happened upon two spider monkeys sitting on the ground on the pathway leading to the restaurant having a stand off with the two red and green macaws.
The spider monkeys kept running up waving their arms at the macaws and trying to pull their tail feathers, whilst the macaws kept running forward to try and bite the monkey’s tails.
On numerous occasions I have seen the same scenario occur with some of the rescued dogs that we have here where the monkey will be antagonising the dog, pulling its tail and then jumping out of reach into the trees whilst the poor hound tries to jump up.
The capuchins tend to stay in their territory and rarely come down across the river to the restaurant, although there are a few that do come and then go report back to the Alpha.
It is intriguing to watch the dynamic of the capuchins and each day there is a new development of one monkey starting to become more domineering or another suddenly hanging around the Alphas cage reporting on the daily happenings in the territory.
As the babies and juveniles get older they can start to develop new characteristics as hormones take over and this can lead to some of them having to be tethered or caged, as they can become a danger to humans and other monkeys.
Even though most of the Capuchins that come here have been taken from the wild as babies they still intrinsically know how the territory works when they arrive and fall into the natural order from Alpha downwards.
It is truly fascinating to watch and to know that even though they have been taken from the wild they still retain their natural instincts.