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!
Please take a look at our new Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary video, a light-hearted little snippet we call "Splish Splash." Here's how the frolicking footage came about:I could hear the routine splash of monkeys playing in the water - chasing each other through the shallows or canon-balling into the warm water from the heights of a nearby tree overhanging the pond. I was looking forward to shooting some quick video while I had a little time to spare and the monkeys were busy trying to cool off.
Camera in hand I entered the large enclosure and headed toward the sounds, but less than half way there a silence begin to descend - the frolicking monkeys had been alerted to my presence. I should be used to this by now. After all of the would-be perfect photographs they evade and all the times I've tried to have someone witness an interesting behavior that suddenly disappears after days of repeating it, I somehow still expect I'll just walk right in and catch them in their acts.
As I neared the small pond monkeys were all around me, but the very behavior I wanted to capture on video had ceased entirely. How do they know? I set up behind a newly sprouted mesquite (how do they do that in a drought?) and waited. No shade. No breeze. No cloud cover. Fortunately I was wearing my Born Free USA cap (hint, hint) which provided protection from the hot southwest Texas sun and the searing 103-degree Fahrenheit temperatures. I waited. A few monkeys circled the pond and then exited stage right. Minutes went by, then 10, then 30 (it was getting pretty hot now), and still no action.
Unbeknownst to me some of the monkeys had decided to watch me watching them, and when I turned around to grab some now-hot water from my pack, I found more than a few round, furry faces staring back at me. They were quiet, observant and nonthreatening - and wet. So that's where they went. As I was watching them a loud splash erupted from behind me and I whirled around to the pond to see a large wake in the water created by a recent dive. My camera was turned off, of course ,and I wondered again, "How do they know?"
After almost an hour some of them finally decided that I hadn't done something evil to their play area and returned to explore the banks like it was the first time they had seen it. First one, then two, then several more (monkeys see, monkey really do do) showed up at the water's edge and begin a tamed-down version of their normal play. I managed to get a few minutes' worth of video before I was too hot and tired to continue. Not a great day of shooting but at least I got one clip of a good free-jump. The monkey action was down to a crawl, anyway, so I decided to head over to Bo's area where I knew I would have no trouble inviting him to indulge in his favorite water sport: live liquid hose-slapping.As I was nearing the exit to the enclosure I heard a loud splash back at the pond - then another, and then quickly another, and …
Here just outside Dilley, Texas, the high temperature has been 100 degrees or above all but two days this month (on July 2, it was merely 96; last Thursday, it was 99!). Monkeys know how to play in the water, but we could help cool them off more by providing more shade. Food prices have soared in the drought, so keeping the primates well-fed has been a more expensive proposition. We could use your help.
Please make a donation to the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary today. That would be a very, very cool thing to do, and we'd be most appreciative.