Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Fish and chips.
Howler monkeys can be very clever and learn easily but you cannot teach them. They learn what they want to learn. For example, MonaLisa waits for me in the bathroom every morning, knowing that I will prepare a toothbrush with toothpaste for her. (Where are you Colgate? Here is an irresistible photo call). Then she cleans her teeth. Now this is not just biting the brush, she has watched me and imitates my technique closely.
Sophie can also clean her teeth and Imanol has just started, having got over the initial shock of the peppermint flavor. The picture is of Imanol, working away with a toothbrush which is just a little on the large side.
While they are about it, they also use the toilet. True they don’t always sit the right way around and have yet to get the idea of pulling the chain. MonaLisa always gets it right, Imanol nearly always gets it wrong but he is very young and has plenty of time to learn After all, it must be illogical to a monkey to want to dispose of excrement when the forest floor depends on it. Toilet paper is yet another silly human habit..
MonaLisa is also adept at opening doors and we have to take special precautions when she is in the house. Fridge doors are a frequent target. She knows exactly where we store all her favorite snacks.
Everyone knows that Howlers are tree dwellers and that their diet is nuts, flowers and leaves with maybe a few insects thrown in for a bit of protein. Additionally their foraging habits for food are highly selective and complex. (Maybe I will write more about howler foraging in another post). Therefore, it is difficult to understand why, given a choice, they would prefer chicken, fish or meat to fruit or vegetables. Throw in a passion for chocolate and coffee and you have a real mystery. Where do they learn it? There are not many cafes serving coffee or fish and chip shops* in the high trees.
*fish and chip shops are uniquely British and do what the name implies, they sell fried fish and french fries, but what do you expect when an Englishman writes a Blog?
Posted by Philip Cordrey at 3:55 PM