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Inti Wara Yassi - The Capuchins Say Hi

all seasons in one day 27 °C

The last 4 days have been an absolutely amazing experience both personally and professionally. I can’t seem to imagine any other hands on experience that would compete with what I am doing now. Every day I’m growing more and more confident and with this confidence comes an assuring calmness that I definitely know rubs off on the monkeys. They are respecting me more and more and it is becoming more rewarding each day that I get to work with these cool little monkeys.

The long 12 hour days are tough work and the combined 7 hours of hard core cleaning is not the greatest but it’s overshadowed by the fact that I’m doing this work for all my little capuchin friends :) and the hilarious antics that occur all day are worth the scrubbing.

A few noteworthy things have occurred these last 4 days.

  • I was bitten on my second day by my friend Pepper she drew blood and then ran off with a mischievous smile on her face. I could already tell this would not be the last time and unsurprisingly I can report that she has successfully bitten me every day so far, we’re working on it though.
  • My boots have worn all the hair off the sides of my legs and I have discovered the monkeys quite like to rub their hands and feet along the spikey regrowth - my lack of consistent facial hair is made up by my impressive leg hair.
  • I spent pretty much every free moment one day trying to get to know a freaky little monkey called Totito who has an aversion to males. I thought I had made breakthrough progress when she came down and sat on my head even though she was hissing and crying and foaming at the mouth. I’ve now found out that she isn’t my friend she is just on heat and her hormones compelled her to latch onto me.
  • There is a big free male from the jungle that comes down and causes havoc by running around and fighting everyone. I’ve gotten fairly good at chasing him away but one day I didn’t have a weapon and he decided to turn on me and I was forced to run away. Which immediately made me his bitch but hopefully this can be corrected with firm scaring’s in the future.
  • We had to start at 5:30am yesterday to haul rocks before work up to the Spider Park. They are cementing a new pen floor for a spider monkey called Mickey-Thomas who was severely mauled in a massive brawl a couple of days ago. He is currently in the clinic but will need to use this pen as a re-integration step to get freed back into Spider Park. The ‘path’ up to the spider park is a treacherous, muddy passage with sections that require you to pull yourself up using a rope; a fact that would have helped me judge my rock carrying capabilities had I known. The path is hard enough to walk up without a load and I made the mistake of loading my rice bag with about 20kg of rocks – I was horrendously surprised when I realised what I would have to be climbing up with such a heavy sack over my shoulder. I almost vomited when I reached the top and thought I was about to pass out. Needless to say my second and third trip up contained much less rocks. After this backbreaking morning it was off to work as normal at 7:30am.
  • I moved into the accommodation on the park called Casa Copa where I’m sharing a room with a New Zealand bloke called Steve. Luckily he doesn’t snore or do any gross weird stuff so I’m happy.
  • We had a fundraising taco night which was fun. Everyone hung out drinking beers and chewing coca leaves, it was good to get to know a few of the other volunteers. It was also a good opportunity to eat meat because the park café is vegetarian only.
  • Last night we had an incredibly huge thunderstorm that started at 7pm and went through to about 5am. Normally big lightning storms only last a couple of hours but this one was huge. By far the loudest most frequent striking storm I’ve ever been in. The doors on the house were actually shaking from the explosions. It was impossible to sleep so we just sat around listening to what sounded like the end of the world. I asked Steve who has lived in Darwin for several years how this compares to home and he said this was considerably worse. It was very impressive though.
  • Cesar our big alpha male on the Heaven side of Quarantine escaped his pen today. He is one of ten monkeys in Heaven that are permanently in pens due to behavioural issues and his escape was a pretty tense moment. Luckily Or (an Israeli girl who has been volunteering in Quarantine for several years now) was able to quickly blow dart him and after a trip to the vet he was back in a pen. We used the opportunity to change his pen so that he woke up to new scenery.
  • Today I also made friends with a few of the large males that are on runners, that was a big confidence boost because they are fairly intimidating with their huge canines. I still have yet to break through to the humungous males in the pens who still charge and try to grab and maul me through the cage but hopefully with more time and persistence they too will accept me.

That is pretty much all the interesting news I have from the last 4 days, although there is so much more to talk about it would blister my fingers if I tried to type it all up, although it’s all written in my diary so I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get home.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 17:02 Archived in Bolivia Tagged monkey animal coca volunteer tortuga male thunderstorm puente puma bite capuchin quarantine cesar cochabamba pepper yassi inti alpha tunari villa_tunari ciwy wara espiritu_santo_bridge totito

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While reading this post I found I was reflecting on some kids I have worked with over the years with challenging behaviours! like bitting, spitting, screaming, swearing, kicking, punching etc. I thought that was hard, however it doesn't come remotely close to what you are dealing with with those monkeys!! Good thing you truly have a connection with animals and this is testament... If you ever had any doubts working with animals and you didn't think is was going to be your thing you would have worked it out by now!!! I would have ran away on the first day!!! Stay away from those big fellas and no more bites... :)

by chris tayler

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