Third day - Primates 1 team

Cha-am Travel Blog

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Tam in the tunnels

So I wasn't looking forward to today much just for sheer number of primates to be fed, but with a team of 5 we had all the food chopped up and distributed pretty quickly and then it was just a matter of feeding the right bowl to the right monkey. Our team was mostly preoccupied with the gibbons, which are the more difficult of the primates. We started with the solitary animals, i.e. the grumpiest ones who have to be kept separate for the safety of the other ainmals. They were alright though, we just have to place food bowls in trays attached to the enclousure exterior and they are, at this point, thankfully more concerned with the food than terrorising us. Changing the water buckets is more difficult however, once the primates are well-fed and looking for some way to entertain themselves, making life diffcult for the volunteers seems like a fun game. I ended up watering the female-hater and Neil the man-hater, which in retrospect was ill-thought out. Both of us ended up soaked as we flung the watering can in the air trying to move out the way of a charging monkey hell-bent on scaring us witless. At this point I was also able to use the proverb 'don't bite the hand that feeds you' absolutely in context. The monkey didn't care though, he just stared me out and guarded the water bucket till I stumped off and left him triumphant but thirsty. Maybe the second water run will catch him napping on the job...


After breakfast we collected the food bowls, did a mammoth wash-up session and then had a break for a while till after lunch when we had to unload the food truck for the fruit and veg house. Then a break before lunch, another nap and another bleary, lethargic afternoon feeding the gibbons again. This was punctuated by a thrilling but harrowing event when two of the bears had a barney in the nearby enclosures. We were drawn initially by the roars but the monkeys were chattering so much in agitation at the noise; tensions running high amongst all the nearby animals who started screaming and leaping up and down, they too worked up to get close to their food bowl anyway.


The two bears, Bozo and Tam have been fighting on and off for the past 3 weeks - they are fighting over territory of the tunnels. She, the larger of the two, is the protanganist, but they both refuse to back down and the fight really kicked off with Tam slamming Bozo to the ground and against the wire netting. Our Thai keepers were up on the enclosure walls, all slipping a catapult out of their back pockets like drawing a gun from a holster. Unfortunately the hoses they turned on them, and the stones they fired were completely ineffectual, and the fight only drew to a close when they managed to seperate the two into different parts of the enclosure. Bozo seemed to have recieved a neck wound and lay panting in the pool for most of the afternoon. Apparently what he really needs is the snip, but as the bears are so overweight, putting them under general anaesthetic is dangerous. Clearly this situation is reaching a climax however, and with the possibility of one killing the other (it has happened before), the danger is very real for both of them.

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Tam in the tunnels
Tam in the tunnels
photo by: thelailama