Sunday, February 24, 2008

A hammock full of balls

I really was not going to write about Maniña today but seeing this recent photograph of him posing in the hammock alongside the plastic colored balls, reminded me that I hadn't mentioned this new addition to the games we have provided in the enclosures. Howler monkeys are slow moving people when in their natural environment in the forest. They are known to sleep the greater part of the day and the rest of it spent slowly munching leaves. But when in semi captivity they exhibit different behavior. Their food here is much more concentrated and available so less time is needed for obtaining food. They are much more active and seek opportunity for play. The ropes and walkways we provide are very much in use and the children display athleticism which is virtually unknown in the wild. Most games appear to be preparation for fight or flight. The pseudo war and aggressive noises we see and hear are all with that purpose. Recently the family of Lucio provided colored plastic balls and had the idea of placing them inside a hammock. Howler's have extremely sensitive color vision so the balls have been very attractive to them. This has proved to be a very successful game. The children love to launch themselves into a hammock full of balls then jump up and down until all the balls have fallen to the ground. Great fun for the monkeys but dismay for the poor helper that has to enter the enclosure many times a day to replace the balls. This has been such a successful play that we have installed hammocks and balls in all the enclosures and they love it.

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