As promised, a blog post about my excursion to see the Chimps at Monarto Zoo in Adelaide.
J and I started the day proactively with a circuit class at Semaphore Beach Fitness. It’s a cosy gym that focuses on small group training sessions and PT. Two gents (Jarrad and Dave) run the joint and they work hard to create a really friendly fitness family. I love it here.
After a killer sesh we headed into town to pick-up the lovely Jess and Lucy. Inevitably they were both a wee bit worse for wear after a fairly big night. However we roused the two of them into action with some helpful running around from J and some not so helpful shouts from me; “Closed Shoes Luce”, “the brochure says you can’t wear red, Jess”. We eventually got moving. One quick, dirty Maccas stop and 40 minutes later we arrived at Monarto.
We checked in to our Behind the Scenes Experience – Meet the Chimps and headed to the Chimp enclosure. We were greeted by a lovely Zoo volunteer who waited with us until the tour began. A zoo keeper who’s name escapes me right now took us behind the ‘STAFF ONLY’ doors and we entered the behind the scene world of the Chimps.
I think all four of us girls thought on signing up that we were going to get touch a chimpanzee, but very quickly realised that we definitely didn’t want to. Upon entering the behind the scenes world, the noise the chimps were making increased significantly.
Our zoo keeper was ever so informative. She explained all about Chimpanzee habits in both the wild and captivity and seemed to be able to answer every one of our questions. Some of the things we spoke about included:
* How like us the Chimpanzees appeared to be. Not surprisingly, they share 98% of our DNA.
* Whilst chimps are so like us, they are still animals and it is not fair to try and treat or expect them to act like humans.
* Travis – the celebrity chimp that ripped a woman called Charla Nash’s face off.
* The sheer strength of these beautiful animals. – the reason we would not want to be face to face or touching them.
* Chimpanzee gestation period. Can you believe 8 months! One of the chimps at Monarto was pregnant and we spoke about how she was coping and the reaction from the rest of the chimp family.
* Training that the zoo keepers are doing with the chimps in preparation for the new baby chimp. For example:
o Teaching the chimps that if a baby (they use a toy) chimp is on the ground it needs to be picked up.
o Teaching the chimps not to drink from a baby bottle (in case the zoo keepers have to hand feed the new baby)
* Jane Goodall, the researcher known for 45 years of study on the social interactions of wild chimpanzees.
* Primate conservation in Africa – Call on You – an initiative calling for us to recycle old mobile phones and other electronic devices containing Coltan in order to reduce the degradation of Primate habitats in the Republic of Congo.
QUICK SIDE NOTE – My mate Dadzy, of Anathema fame is always harping on about recycling electronics. It turns out that Coltan is also renowned for being slave-mined. In Dadzy’s words “It’s not just diamonds that are soaked in blood, this shit is in our phones, TVs and computers and most people don’t even know it.”
After asking as many questions as we could think of we were taken to the food preparation area where we got to help make snacks (vegies and honey puffs) stuffed into milk cartons. We then headed out to an empty enclosure where we hid snacks for the Chimpanzees.
Once we had finished we left the enclosure and the Chimps were released to find and play with our pre-prepared snacks. The keepers then ran through some of their training exercises and medical checks before we ended our tour.
It was sooooworth it. I learnt so much about these gorgeous creatures so similar to us and in doing so developed a much greater respect for them.