Bringing Up Baby

14th November 2011

Despite this, many of the births are still synchronised so that all of the young are born together and the whole group is actively involved in their care and protection. Our Capuchins however have learned to take advantage of their human carers and, safe in the knowledge that the cupboard is always full, throw caution to the wind and make love whenever they feel like it resulting in babies popping out year round.


Like most of us, primates just love babies and there is never a shortage of babysitters. Siblings and aunts are always at the ready to give Mom a break, often being quite insistent about it; babies are snatched from their Mothers to be ‘cooed’ over by the rest of the group. Dads too take their turn, teaching their offspring the ways of the forest and reprimanding them when they get out of hand. It is a common sight to see a Capuchin baby screaming back to Mom after Dad has given it a ticking off! In some species however, it is the father who is the primary caregiver, carrying the infant from birth and handing it back to Mom only for feeding.


But this is where our similarity ends. When it comes to babies our reproductive issues are far more closely connected to birds….


Soon after conception the preparations begin; a safe haven has to be prepared and the parents scour the forest for the finest of furnishings with which to build their nest. After her eggs are laid Mom puts her feet up and nestles down to nurture the precious embryos while Dad dashes around bringing food to keep her strength up. A short period of expectant bliss before all hell breaks loose.


Chicks are born naked and noisy with a two word vocabulary…. ‘FEED ME!’ From dawn to dusk the parents take turns to stuff food into the ever demanding mouths in between clearing out their poo and protecting them from nature’s dangers. Then they stand by virtually helpless when the time comes for their cherished offspring to finally fly the nest.


One thing all parents have in common though is the avid protection of their young. Monkey toddlers are hastily grabbed by their Mothers when strangers approach and anyone who has visited Birds of Eden recently will have incurred the wrath of Daddy Goose who has been diligently guarding his nest bound mate. Ruffed lemurs hide their offspring in cleverly concealed nests and Vervet monkeys deviously take multiple mates in order to prevent infanticide. Most parents readily give up their food time and energy for the preservation of future generations and for some, the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.


Of course, there are exceptions; cuckoos who dump their babies with other birds to bring up, Egyptian geese who literally kick out their offspring once they can fend for themselves and there are species of animal that will give birth then abandon their young, their lives left to the hands of fate.


One of the wonderful things about Monkeyland and Birds of Eden is that their residents have the freedom of choice and a naturalistic environment in which to raise their young. This is as close to nature as you can get.


For more information about Monkeyland and Birds of Eden, please contact Lara or the manager Lee  or visit our websites ; and

The current rate to visit either Monkeyland or Birds of Eden is R150 per adult, and R75 per child aged 3 to 12.  Under 3’s are free of charge.  To visit both Monkeyland and Birds of Eden (referred to as THE COMBO) costs R240 per adult and R120 per child.


We also sell Annual Passes at Birds of Eden. These Annual Passes are worth every penny, and also make meaningful birthday and Christmas gifts. If you have not got your annual pass, and wish to obtain one, this is how it works and how you would apply:


The once off annual cost of a single adult annual pass is R300 for either Monkeyland or Birds of Eden or R480 if you want an Annual Pass for THE COMBO. The once off cost for children aged between 3 and 12years of age is half the adult cost.  The Annual Pass as it implies, gives the person to whom it is issued unlimited entry for 12 months from the date it is issued.


Annual Pass cards which are also referred to as “Membership Cards” can be obtained at Birds of Eden reception seven days a week during normal office hours 8am to 5pm.


Birds of Eden and Monkeyland are unforgettable.  Once you have visited our sanctuaries you will return time and again.


Contact Monkeyland and Birds of Eden on: +27(0)829795683 or +27(0)445348906

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