Tim Ajax

Sanctuary Blog

by Tim Ajax, Director

Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary

Some people monkey around a little, some people monkey around a lot, and then there's Tim. He's a prince among primates, presiding over hundreds of fellow bipeds in the often-brutal Texas outdoors. There's no ape escape for Tim and his crew, but no matter. They love to help macaques, baboons and vervets live out their lives with as much freedom as possible. And like peeling a banana, Tim's blogs take you to the good stuff inside — with a steady supplement of Texas weather updates, of course!

To peel or not to peel...

Published: 07/23/08

We had a good delivery of fruit this week and, after many months bananas have finally come down in price. One of the things I enjoy is watching how individual monkeys eat. They each have their own particular way of preparing the food before eating it. Most will peel the skin off fruits such as bananas or tangerines with their fingers or teeth before eating it. However, Marco, a 20-year-old bonnet macaque, will bite off the tip of the banana and then squeeze the banana through the opening created using his teeth. Sometimes he will eat both the fruit and skin.

Mo, our largest snow monkey, will use the palm of his hand and squash a tangerine to remove the skin, rather than peel it. Oscar, also a large snow monkey, will very delicately peel grapes before eating them. He is very particular about his food. Everything has to be just so and to his liking. If it is not, he will toss the food disdainfully over his shoulder and move on to the next item.

Many monkeys dip or soak their food in water. Monkey chow biscuit will often be left soaking in the water until considered soft enough to eat. Some monkeys will even hang over the water trough and push the floating chow around in the water while waiting for it to soften.

While most will carry away food in their mouths, Albert, a snow monkey,will pick up an item, such as a banana, and casually throw it in front of him as he walks toward his destination. Sometimes he has two items of food and takes turns to throw each in front of him as he walks.

Until next week,


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