Monkeys together with the gorillasby Ardaan Gerritsen
Since some time the gorillas are sharing their outside enclosure with greater spot-nosed monkeys. As you may know gorillas are great apes whereas these monkeys are members of the Old World Monkeys. These monkeys feel perfectly at home in the gorilla-biotope. You may also know that gorillas are peaceful herbivores despite of the bloodthirsty reputation of Bokito. Therefore we were not afraid to give it a try.
One fine afternoon in April I went to watch both species. No gorillas to be seen so far but two monkeys high up in the trees. They seem very relaxed. One of them picks something from a branch, I wonder whether the trees will survive in the long run. Are the greater spot-nosed monkeys leaf-eaters? I’ll look it up later. They are running after each other. Within seconds they are far from where I had spotted them. Another monkey appears. Behind a little hill of grass something is moving, it is a burlap …. funny! There is a young gorilla underneath. Then from behind the little hill the entire gorilla family appears. Fortunately I stayed a little while. If I had not done so I could have thought that the gorillas were indoors. Alas many people around me think so too and sometimes say: “They are obviously asleep” which is not the case.
A second gorilla arrives its head also covered with a burlap, looking like an old lady with a headscarf, quite funny. I am walking to the gorilla look-out hut where there are quite some people. There is much more to be seen: several gorillas, adults and young ones of different ages as well as the 3 greater spot-nosed monkeys that are sitting near by. I am quite surprised to see one after the other descending from the trees and walking among the gorillas. One of the adolescent gorillas starts chest beating, but only for half a second. It may be directed towards the visitors or towards the monkeys. The latter do not react at all.
Two monkeys are grooming each other in the grass. One of the young gorillas comes so near that he could easily grab the tail of one of the monkeys. But he does not! He walks past leaving the monkeys in peace. The monkeys ignore the gorillas completely.
An adult female gorilla collects some ten little twigs in her mouth and walks to a shelter where she starts chewing them. One of the gorilla babies grabs a big stick and puts it into her mouth meanwhile cleverly climbing a tree trunk. Much faster than humans could have done this but not half as fast as the monkeys. One of the monkeys is stunting, hanging upside-down from a 10 yards long thick rope swinging along it with its hands. When half way he lets go, falling down some 4 yards. He is not concerned at all, before long he is calmly walking towards us. He is even walking on two feet a few yards which these monkeys hardly ever do. When watching a little longer I see more monkeys walking upright. It seems to be quite normal behaviour when on firm ground.
The visitors enjoy watching the animals and watching each other as well. At the look-out hut a mum is playing hide and seek with a nipper sitting on the arm of its granddad. The little one roars with laughter when mummy is appearing from the hut. Mum is enjoying it as well. Another way of enjoying visiting the zoo.
When staying a little longer at an exhibit you will often see unexpected things happen that you will miss when walking along. I am inviting you to try it.translated article Blijdorp Blad 2 - summer 2011