Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nature Red in Tooth and Wing

My children are gentle-hearted. Apart from Jonah, who is a craven lunatic. But this isn’t about him. Well, only partially. Perhaps it is, as usual, all about him. If my memories of carrying him around the VERY BIG local zoo hadn’t been so fresh, we wouldn’t have opted for butterfly world.

Now, butterfly world is very entertaining, as long as your idea of entertainment is an enclosed area heated to tropical blasts (think: a small broken elevator in the Congo), with giant things fluttering just close enough to your peripheral vision for you to have to resist smooshing them into a rainbow-coloured smear…

I’m thinking with adult eyes (eh?) again. For children it’s quite impressive- the butterflies just flitting around like lazy social networkers, drinking at one flower, stretching their wings on the greenery. There’s an area with live spiders and snakes (in terrariums), and another with rescued parrots and lizards.

Last time we went, the large covered area with the tiny blue duiker, iguanas and marmosets was the most popular. You know marmosets, right? Tiny monkeys, little progeria-faces, Oscar night hairdos? Yeah. Those. They swing all over the ropes, and drop onto your shoulders as you walk. Being the dad, I have to take care not to let a soprano screech slip out when that happens, and I try not to think of all the bacteria and the potential for disease. You’d expect them to be as cute as their National Geographic specials spindoctors make them out to be.

Truth is, they are vicious buggers. I’ll be fair, if I were locked up in a caged area, and only allowed to drop onto the shoulders of people who have nothing better to do then muss my hair, I’d be thinking of colourful ways of revenge, too. They were trying to climb into women’s handbags-making them look like Paris Hilton with a primate fetish, and generally seemed more agitated than normal.

Perhaps it’s that time of the month. Monkeys-on-heat-time. Now James isn’t the ugliest kid in the school, and I can’t think why a sex-crazed marmoset would consider him a threat, but one minute he was holding the thing, the next it had bitten his face, and was holding his cheek in a bite-pinch. I couldn’t pull it off, for fear of tearing the skin, and I had to watch this thing then bite his hands too.

Don’t panic. He just ended up with tiny indentations and bruises. But it does rather spoil your day when you are tripping through the butterflies one minute, being savaged by a possibly rabid primate the next. Brave boy just wept a bit. I would have been heading to the emergency room, having every tropical disease test known to humankind.

All in all, a fairly typical outing. Next time we go, I’m taking a mini-can of pepper spray, or a tiny stun-gun. The fuzzy headed freak’s gonna get it.


  1. END HIM!

    Admirable restraint, dude. I might have done the 'Fly monkey, fly!' thang.

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  3. @Andre: I was very tempted- but had to avoid the third indicator of psychotic behaviour- cruelty to animals- in front of the children. I'll stick to setting fires in corners, and collecting duct tape.

  4. Marmosets are mean little f*ckers. Cute, yes. But basically they have the temperament of a silver back squashed into that little frame. Naaaaasty.

  5. Thats so not cool! They should take them out of they bite.
    I'm glad he's not badly hurt.
    We saw butterlfy world in January when we were on holiday, and thankfully the marmosets kept their distance.

  6. I hope you notified someone - the zoo could get into trouble if someone - especially a child - was badly hurt by a grumpy marmoset!

    That said, I hope James still enjoyed his day at the zoo after that ordeal?

  7. @SMP: I thought silverbacks were the gentle giants of the primate world?- Life as a Gary Larson cartoon...
    @angel: I threatened to take it out. Actually, in retrospect, it was quite funny :-)
    @brandy101: Yeah we had a good day (Hannah was upset too, after she sat in a mud puddle, but I'll not mention that).

  8. I don't know of places here, except maybe petting zoos, where you can be that interactive with the animals, especially not zoos. We are a litigious lot here, too and that would have major lawsuit written all over it. As to the cruelty to animals thing? If I pummel into a bloody pulp a critter that is trying to eat my kid, oh well...I guess I'm psycho.

  9. If you were in the USA, you'd have sued the monkey, and the zoo, and probably all the other people in that exhibit that day.

    Sorry about James -- what a way to ruin what otherwise sounds like an excellent trip.

  10. Geez, your life is much more interesting than mine. No one I know ever gets bit by horny marmosets. (Boy, what I wouldn't do for an army of horny marmosets. I'd be a king.)

  11. @Herb: Looks like we have a mass-marmoset cull abou to happen. I always peeged you more for a lasso and a six gun, though...
    @Briane P: Clap that monkey in irons, and hoist him at dawn!
    @MDL: The second part of your comment- you're in the wrong movie again, that one is a limited release German production. Your comment will probably increase my hits from google, though. Thanks.

  12. Oh my GOD! That's creepy!

    You want for I should take the marmoset down?

  13. @Abby- cool a marmoset hit. Liking this.


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