At Monkeyland, on the other hand, sufficient food is always provided on the feedings platforms in the 12 hectare forest. However, their instincts still tell them to have babies in times of plenty, when it’s nice and warm in the sunshine. A safari around Monkeyland at this time of year is particularly fun, since all the hard-working mothers are busy taking care of their adorable bouncy kids.
Unlike zoo monkeys, the Monkeyland residents choose their own partners and raise their offspring in an environment much like their native habitat. This means the young learn from birth how to live in a forest and are much better suited to a natural monkey life. Around 400 apes, monkeys and lemurs live at Monkeyland, including gibbons, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, miniature monkeys, vervets, spectacled langurs and three species of lemur. We monitor the monkey births and our rangers know exactly where to find the young ones, which is important in checking up on their health. Constant monitoring is necessary since many of our monkeys were hand-reared by humans, either as pets or in zoos. This means that they did not grow up like normal monkeys and many females never learnt how to be a good monkey mother. Baby rejection is a very common problem with hand-reared animals, and can only be overcome by providing them with a natural group environment in which they learn mothering skills from more experienced monkey mums.
Many people like the idea of having a pet monkey, since they do not understand the difficulties involved in keeping them – who would have thought that hand-rearing means they often reject their own young because they don’t know what to do with them? And how many people think about the fact that the new furniture they bought or the pretty gold jewellery they are wearing may well have killed a bunch of cute monkey babies in the wild? If you would like to know practical information about what you can do to help primates, or if you would like some more information about Monkeyland, please visit www.monkeyland.co.za… or come and see us, we are situated 16km East of Plettenberg Bay and 1km West of Nature’s Valley just off the N2.