Friday, 31 August 2007

Monkey Forest!

Today we went to Monkey Forest with my Mum, Julie, and Julie's Mum and Partner Roy. It is an enclosed 60 acre woodland area with about 140 free-roaming Barbary macaques, on Trentham Estate near Stoke-on-Trent.

It wasn't a particularly nice day, but we enjoyed ourselves greatly. Seeing apes behave so naturally and so close up, with all the forest to play in, was very stimulating. If there is such a word as Rousseauian, that's the feeling of seeing our primate cousins behaving in a natural state which we seemed to have lost on the evolutionary path to enchained 'civilisation'. Or maybe not; just in the hour or so that we were observing them, you could clearly make out 'human' behaviour such as maternal care (see my photo), social hierarchy, playfulness, puzzle-solving, territory marking, bonding, and anger.

The purpose of Monkey Forest is not just as a good and reasonably-priced day out (it is), it also does serious conservation work, scientific study, and consciousness awareness. Sadly, Barbary macaques are an endangered species, with an estimated total wild population in their indigenous homes of Morocco and Algeria of only 10,000. Monkey Forest and its sister parks in France and Germany have successfully re-introduced six hundred Barbary macaques back into the wild.

Oh yes, there had to be a Germany connection didn't there? Well here's a link to Affenberg Salem, a sister park in Germany!

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