Monkey Business

Monkey Business

By Eric Roberts

 

 

monkey2012In an anthropology class many years ago, the professor changed the subject of the origin of man and told about studies on the abilities of the monkeys, particularly chimps and apes. One big difference is the monkeys don’t have opposing thumbs like Man. They just have five fingers. It was thought this was one reason monkeys couldn’t use tools.

One test they gave a chimp had different results than expected! In his cage they hung a bunch of bananas over his head out of his reach. The chimp was given a pole as a tool to knock off a banana. Instead he placed the pole right below the bananas and quickly climbed the pole and picked a ripe banana, not a bruised one! In another test they built a machine that introduced the chimps to the idea of money and working for food and treats. They had to pull a tight stubborn handle to get a chip: with one chip you could buy a bag of peanuts, two chips a mango, four chips a banana and for 10 chips you could receive the best prize… a ride in the arms of the handler.

They were surprised by the personalities that developed. There were hard working chimps, lazy ones, and a couple of thieves, and one female who saved her chips. One day a mouse got in the cage and the chimps went berserk. The thrifty female in a panic took her chips and ran to the handler for a ride out of the compound!

The professor also said chimps have a sense of humor. There were two chimps at a zoo in Germany who were famous for their practical jokes. The female would gather up all the garbage in the corner of the cage. The male would jump up and down, rattled the bars, and scream and draw a crowd. When the crowd was watching his antics, the female started to throw the garbage at the crowd and there were two happy chimps.

I had a different experience with an ape. It was at the San Diego Zoo Park, where you can ride on a little train and watch zebras, gazelle, giraffes and elephants roaming free in acres of land. Before we took the ride, we had to walk by the Gorilla’s Compound. The gorilla was making snow balls out of his feces and throwing the balls at the people passing by and making some jump out of the way. As we had to catch our ride, I knew I would have to take a picture later.

When we returned, my family stood out of range. Before I went to the viewing area, I set the camera for the shot and walked to the middle of the concrete path keeping my eye on the gorilla. He turned his back to me and I relaxed for a moment… he then hurled a hook shot over his shoulder! Looking thru the lens I saw a black dot getting bigger and bigger every second. I dove to the ground and the missile went over my head. As I stood up and brushed myself off, I found I had a bloody knee and elbow. The gorilla was probable laughing as he saw me duck from his accurate hook shot that went the full length of a basketball court.

Ojo Del Lago
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