Saturday, August 19, 2006

The little boy that Santa Claus forgot

I have written about Marco before but always about his relationship with Sussy. I have written very little just about him. He arrived at Canaote in December 2003. The police, who had confiscated him from children trying to sell him on the roadside, handed him to us. If people just realized when they buy monkeys in the street that the mother has been shot, to make this sale possible. The more you buy the more helpless animals will meet this fate.
At that time, he weighed only 500 grams. Sussy adopted him and when he was small, she carried him about on her back. Sussy treats him like her own and they are inseparable. However, he is now over 4 kilos and not a baby anymore. He is very athletic, he plays on the ropes and swing in his garden all day until late. When visitors see his size and discover that he is only about two and a half years old, they are often incredulous. He is a character, he wants you to join in his games, and to make sure that you do not leave too soon he often snatches a hat or other available possession. Marco is an expert pickpocket. He is friendly but not cuddly. You won’t find him sitting on your shoulder or in your arms. He is after all an alpha male. I have watched him develop from a toddler to adulthood. I heard his first thin pathetic morning calls change into the full-throated deep and vibrant call he demonstrates today. A bit of a joker, yes but he has all the proud bearing of a leader. Male alphas are aggressive to other younger monkeys. Particularly if they are not his brood. I have never observed that attitude in him. Quite the contrary, I often see his invitation to join in the game.
He is loved and respected by all the staff here. I don’t have favorites but if I did…
He has no visitors that come specially to see him. No e-mail enquires. No phone calls to ask after his heath. Who needs toys anyway? Having said that, he is not lonely and most days he really enjoys himself.

In our picture you see him eating a Santol, a fruit from Malaysia. Quite rare here in Venzuela, our trees are probably the only ones in this country and they are growing and fruiting happily in our Botantic Garden. The children have lots of rare treats from the large collection of fruits we have from around the tropical world.

Christmas comes but once a year for ev'ry girl and boy,
The laughter and the joy they find in each toy.
I'll tell you of a little boy who lives across the way;
This little feller's Christmas is just another day.

He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa for some soldiers and a drum;
It broke his little heart when he found Santa hadn't come.

In the street, he envies all those lucky boys,
Then wanders home to last year's broken toys.
I'm so sorry for that laddie;
He hasn't got a daddy,
The little boy that Santa Claus forgot.

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