Friday, June 23, 2006

A marriage made in heaven

I haven’t yet written anything about two of our most charming children. It is difficult to write about a very happily married couple because they are consumed with each other and their happiness is plain to see but is uneventful to the outside world. Such is true of Schatov and Emma. I have described them as a marriage made in heaven because they are so perfect for each other. Emma came from ARFA. Her name at that time was Monita but we wanted a prettier name. She reminded me of a female Howler that once lived here named Emma. She subsequently released herself into the wild, having found a wild husband. Reminded me because of a characteristic they shared in common. Howlers are arboreal and do not trouble themselves with walking on the ground. Emma one had the singular ability to walk upright on two legs, Monita also has this uncharacteristic ability. So we decided to name her Emma. She arrived at ARFA having been confiscated by the Guardia National from roadside children plying their awful trade. On one visit there I fell in love with her and then visited her in her enclosure at ARFA many times. Finally Canaote ARFA was formed and the responsibility for Howler Monkeys became the work of Canaote. Emma, much to my very real pleasure was transferred to us. So she came here as a loved friend from the beginning. We constructed a large enclosure for her complete with live trees, bamboo walks and swings galore. All that was lacking was someone to share this with. Howlers are social creatures, just like humans and hate to be alone. This was the problem that Emma had, she was lonely.

We had a visit from the owners of a very young male howler, with a human family in Caracas. They brought Schatov with the intention of finding a new home for him. Clearly the whole family loved him very much and was loathed to let him go. But they did realize from the outset that Schatov needed other monkey’s companionship and the possibility of living the full life of a monkey, rather than that of a small boy child. Schatov’s human family were so torn in their task between their very real love for him and the possibility of losing him from their daily lives that on the occasion of their first visit, they left the following morning and tearfully they took Schatov with them. The trauma I think at that monument was just too great to bear.
There were some changes needed to the enclosure, to make it suitable for Schatov. We planned that he would share with Emma but wanted to construct an enclosure such that it adjoined Emma’s house with an interconnecting door. In this way they could interact through the wire door and then when we were sure that they liked each, we could just open the door for them. To do this we constructed a whole new area called Chateau Schatov. This comprised of walkways, and a beautifully colored roofed house. This is a veritable upstairs, downstairs.
We informed Schatov’s family and they again visited us with Schatov and this time they decided to allow Schatov to stay. The human family has been in touch with Canaote and Schatov almost daily ever since. I quote from a resent letter from Schatov’s human parents. :-

‘Thank you for the beautiful picture! Schatov is big! He looks so different.
It’s sad that I have not been with him each day and to watch him grow.
I still have tears in my eyes each time I think of Schatuska. I think this will be for ever! This little boy has changed my life!!!
I love him so much. You can’t imagine!!’

This is letter by no means unusual or singular. These small folk so akin to human kind, can captivate us and cause us to grieve when we are separated. It is the people who really love them who want them to live full lives as monkeys and not as little human boys which of course they can never be. It takes strength of mind and real care to pass them back to live with their own kind and hopefully to the ultimate fulfillment of parenthood. To this Canaote is dedicated.
Schatov and Emma live together happily. They play vigorously all day and are happy and healthy. We hope that one day they will make a family.

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