Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We all had a wonderful day

Early on Sunday morning the enclosures were alive with excitement. Someone was at the gate, sounding their horn. The children began to roar so loudly that very soon it was above the level of the noise from the car. We were expecting Schatov’s family, Graciela and Erika, who were to motor down from Caracas on a special trip to see him and the other children. We were too slow getting to the gate because the family were already with Totto and Sophie. We greeted each other warmly. Their regular visits are always delightful and the children know that they always bring goodies. Rodrigo, Erika’s fiancé and Santiago, Graciela’s son and Graciela’s husband were also in the party.

Fairly quickly we moved to Schatov’s house and Graciela and Erika were standing in front of his enclosure, to see if he recognized them. I was watching from the other side of the enclosure and I noticed an instant change in Schatov’s attention. He recognized them both and ran towards them. As you can imagine, he was out of the enclosure and into Graciela’s arms in a moment. Just for comfort and safety we set up chairs and a table inside the new enclosure we have constructed for Totto. Additionally we allowed Negro to join the group. This is probably the first time since captivity that he has known such freedom.
Schatov was soon up on the bamboo walkways exploring with great curiosity the whole of the new site.
The family spent a lot of time with Schatov but the other children were not ignored. MonaLisa and Emma with Rosita and Nancy had their share of attention. Of course Maniña was a great show off and gave a big demonstration of his gymnastic abilities.

Totto and Sophie had their share of attention too. Most people are a little nervous of Totto. He always puts on such a stern face but he likes the grapes, apples and other tidbits that his friends have brought him. Sophie sat very close to him the whole time.

Sussy is always a star on these occasions. She greeted the family gracefully as you would expect from a Lady Dowager monkey but she had a firm eye on the presents that they had brought her. She loves grapes.
In the meantime Erika made some good footage of the children with her video camera. Rodrigo and Santiago went on an excursion into our botanic garden and later came back with yet more fruit.

Too soon it was time for them to leave on their journey back to Caracas. I know that Schatov enjoyed the visit. Because I spend so much time with him I can readily detect changes in his mood and I know that he was a very happy monkey on Sunday. The family left behind them generous gifts for the children and two really excellent bottles of genuine French wine for David and me. I admit it is a long time since I enjoyed a glass of wine of that quality. Thank you.

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