Where > Monkey World
When > Friday December 9th 2011
Location > MONKEY WORLD, LONGTHORNS, WAREHAM, DORSET. BH20 6HH > Tel: +44 (0) 1929 462537
Admission > Adult 11 pounds, see website for other ticket prices.
Review – The wife and myself love this place, we sponsor primates and visit twice a year, usually in the Spring, and then again in Autumn or Winter. As sponsors, we get free admission to the park.
I sponsor ‘Sammy’ a chimpanzee, a large easy-going chimp, he was once a beach chimp as a youngster, and was badly mistreated, cigarette burn wounds to the back of his ears resulted in them being distinctively flopped over. Amazingly this abuse doesn’t seemed to have affected Sammy who is a popular troop member in the ‘bachelor group’. Friendly with the young chimps, and non political when it comes to troop politics.
Regarding troop politics, there exists a very strong hierarchical society in troops, the biggest and strongest chimp normally gets to be leader, but to do that he has to win hearts and minds of other chimps to climb the ladder, once there, he can stay in charge for many years until a younger ambitious chimp might overthrow him. The perks of the job are easy access to the lady chimps, 1st knockings when food is available and general kowtowing and respect from the rest of the troop.
Chimp society is very complex, capable of strong bonds of friendship that can last for life, amazing respect and gentleness with their young, but also amazing barbarity, capable of killing other chimps and being brutal to their outgoing leader and lower ranking members. Chimps I believe share something like 97% of their DNA with humans, and they have the same emotions as humans, and are very intelligent.
The work they do here at the park is superb. Primates come from overseas, or where they might have been rescued from the Pet Trade, or owners who can no longer keep them or perhaps where they have found to be mistreated by their owners and seized by their govt, sometimes only by request from Monkey World.
Apart from Chimps, many other primates live happily in Dorset. My wife Ros sponsors two male Muller’s gibbons, ‘Fox’ and ‘Nini’ who she took a shine to on her 1st visit about 10 years ago. Nini only has one arm!
On our visit on 9/12, the gibbons were hiding away in their indoor enclosure in the warm and out of sight apart from ‘Paul’ an agile gibbon. Paul likes to sing, and he makes an amazing racket, I should imagine he can be heard for some distance in the trees in the wild. We also enjoyed seeing feeding time at the chimp ‘Nursery Group’, this is run by female chmips ‘Sally’ and ‘Lulu’, they oversee three youngsters currently, too young to be introduced to the main chimp groups. Although on this occasion we noticed how 8 years old ‘Bryan’ was starting to look perhaps a little large for the nursery group, and we wonder if he will soon join either ‘Hanayas’ or ‘Paddy’s mixed group or go in with the bachelor boys run by ‘Butch’. Introducing new chimps can be tricky, if the troop leader doesn’t accept a new member then it’s unlikely the rest of the troop will. I don’t think it’s understood why they don’t take to some, although it’s considered they make a quick decision about whether they feel the new chimp might be a threat to their authority in the future, I said it was complex!
Our normal routine is to visit all the enclosures in the park to see all the monkeys, the ‘woolly’s, ‘macaques’, ‘orangs’, ‘squirell monkeys’, capuchins’ etc. We also enjoy seeing the golden cheeked gibbons, female Peanut and male Pung-Yo, who have three youngsters Tien, Tia Nang and Teo, all born in the park. They have a lovely enclosure with trees to swing in and look as though they thrive in the park.
What we do find is on every visit is that you see different primates exhibiting different behaviours, on this occasion we found 10-year-old chimp ‘Ben’ practising his displays in the indoor enclosure whilst most of the troop were outside. This is something that troop leaders do as a show of strength, they will quite often run standing upright with their muscles on show, and rampage around hitting things, chimps if they get in the way, and generally show off. This was what Ben was doing, running at the re-inforced glass windows and banging them with his feet with all his strength whilst displaying around the indoor enclosure. By doing this, he has perhaps ambitions one day of being troop leader himself?
Oh, and Sammy came to meet his public at the indoor viewing window, some chimps are a little reticent, but Sammy is quite happy to come and say hello, on my first visit some 5 years ago, Ros nodded at him, and he nodded back, I knew then he was the chimp for me 🙂
We normally have about 3 hours at the park, and use the canteen that serves ok food, the jacket potatoes are good. On our visit on 9/12 the sun shone on a cold day, but because it was out of season, the park was virtually empty, just as we like it!
It’s a fabulous place, if you don’t love it, your kids will ! 🙂