Mrs. Evil Monkey and I went to visit Fallingwater for our 8th anniversary, and got some interesting surprises along the way. Lots of photos involved.
First off, we got this really swanky hotel called Log Cabin Motel. The accommodations were clean and the staff was friendly, and we got a room with a jacuzzi tub. The decor, on the other hand, was rather hilarious.
Surprisingly, there was a walk-through outdoor animal park adjacent to the hotel. Even more amazing, it was relatively clean and the animals seemed to be in good health. And they had a rather interesting assortment of animals!
They had dingos
an adorable grizzly cub
a Tibetan yak we affectionately nicknamed “Ugly cow”
a truly ugly cow named “Muffin”
and Mrs. Evil Monkey feeding an Alpaca
There were a bunch of other animals there as well. But it was the primates that made me happy (big surprise).
They had ring-tailed lemurs
and others. As you can see from the picture of the langur, they had neat contraptions rigged to the monkey pens so that you could put food (cereal) in a bucket, the monkey would pull the bucket over to the pen via a chain, and hence you could feed the monkeys!!! How cool!!!!
Unfortunately, idyllic anniversary simian bliss was soon interrupted. While I’m gleefully interacting with the capuchins, next to me is a pen of spider monkeys. There are two spider monkeys in the pen, and naturally one is socially dominant. When people feed the monkeys via the bucket, the dominant monkey ends up getting its fill first. The subordinate gets a chance only after the dominant monkey doesn’t care anymore. This is how monkeys operate. They see it as the natural way of things.
Apparently this social structure and its inherent lack of fairness pissed off some rednecks at the zoo. Obviously the rational solution to this crisis was for dad to instruct his five year old son in the finer art of training the dominant monkey. I’m not exactly sure what his professional qualifications were (I suspect any prior contact with monkeys revolved around eating them), nor his motivations. I guess for the purposes of “teaching the dominant monkey a lesson” and trying to make it give up so the subordinate monkey could get some treats? What these troglodytes didn’t get is that the subordinate monkey wasn’t going to make a play for the food– she would wait all day for the dominant monkey to get his fill and never consider doing another damn thing until that happened.
The other part my devolved friends didn’t get (or maybe they did, because they seemed to be enjoying themselves a little too much) is that their method of “training” was actually tormenting the dominant monkey. Their brilliant idea was to let him almost get the bucket to the pen and then yank the bucket back. I guess they figured the monkey would tire out. The possibility that the monkey could’ve had its hand severely mangled by the chain being jerked back obviously never entered their primitive minds.
Every indication was that the enlightened beings at the zoo were clearly enjoying their little game. The monkey, however, was not. It was displaying behaviors that I have only seen when a monkey is being beaten on by another monkey. I couldn’t let this continue.
So here I am, on my anniversary trip, publicly chastizing some semi-literate mouth-breathing buffoon in front of the entire zoo and his family (and no, the irony of this whole situation isn’t lost on me). Luckily Mrs. Evil Monkey diplomatically stepped in, distracting us by deftly showing the 5 year old how to appropriately feed the monkeys without unleashing a cortisol deluge. Good timing on her part, because I sincerely felt like giving this jackass a real display of social dominance by pounding him into the gravel sidewalk.
The moral? Monkeys don’t obey human notions of hierarchies and “appropriate” social behaviors. A monkey’s notion of fair is not a human’s notion of fair. Indeed, if you think the monkeys are wrong for not sharing a handful of Cheerios, remember that they probably aren’t too thrilled to be stuffed in a pen and tormented by a being whose idea of a good time is a 12 pack of Natural light and yet another afternoon spent watching NASCAR. Monkey brains are maybe 1/10th our size, which means it is our job to play fair, not theirs. Treat the animals with dignity. You cannot break that social structure by tormenting the dominant monkey, and indeed you are a piece of shit if you try. Your time would be better spent attempting to herd cats.
And never, ever pull this stunt in front of an Evil Monkey.
Filed under: Primatology