I went with a friend to Family Park, a beautiful outdoor park in Cebu City that's a popular family picnic spot on the weekends.
Lucky for us, we happened to be there at feeding time, when the zookeeper fed bananas to the monkeys and other delectables to the rest of the animals.
Not much of a life in a small cage...
During his rounds, the zookeeper opened up one cage and let the two monkeys out.
Luckily, instead of running off into the forest, they hung around to play...you know, like monkeys.
This little fellow (gal?) stuffed himself on bananas and cavorted for his human audience for awhile; but then he got down to his main feeding time activity: harassing the other animals while they ate.
Here he's yanking on the tail feathers of a kite (bird) while the bird is trying to eat a baby chick.
A very large cage about fifteen feet tall and twenty feet across held about ten kites. The zookeeper threw in a few handfuls of live chicks (I believe the kites won't touch dead food.) The predators wasted no time grabbing the tiny birds.
Chick intestines down the hatch...YUM!
As soon as the zookeeper threw the chicks in, one of the monkeys clambered up to the roof of the cage and with a great deal of effort squeezed through the bars. Then he hopped down and immediately began chasing the kites around the cage.
Every time a kite would settle in on one of the perch bars to eat, the monkey would hop up and try to grab the chick from the kite. I was a little surprised: considering that kites are birds of prey and a little bigger than these monkeys, I figured the chase would have been the other way around.
Finally, Mr. Hairy Primate wrested a chick away from a kite. He sat on the ground in the cage playing with the still-wiggling ball of fluff for a few moments until he got bored; then he dropped it and resumed chasing the kites around the cage.
So... what does all this mean?
For those who don't accept the theory of evolution, now that you've looked at the cute monkey pictures, you can go back to reading the Left Behind series of rapture books.
For the rest of us who do believe in Charles Darwin's theory, here are my thoughts:
Why were the monkeys messing with the birds at lunchtime? Not for food; cuz that monkey obviously wasn't interested in eating the birds' lunch.
I'll tell you what the deal is: they were just FUCKING WITH THEM.
'Cuz they enjoyed it.
Next question: what other familiar species, currently busy filling the earth's atmosphere with greenhouse gases / poisoning the seas / clearcutting the land / melting the icecaps / eliminating species at a furious clip / militarizing at an unprecedented rate / blah blah blah... is a close relative of monkeys?
Follow-up question: Are humans a 'freak of nature?' Is our high-risk, bad-boy behavior just a fluke that came out of nowhere?
Are there similarities between the monkey's bad-boy antics and... for example... the Bush administration's reckless and aggressive approach to dealing with the rest of the world?
I'm thinking... that behavior is in our genes... and somehow, over most of the past two million or so years, it must have been adaptive. At least... perhaps up until about 100 years ago; when we humans learned enough tool manipulation to actually have profound effects on the earth.
So if part of our problem is actually "nature" (genetic hard-coding) and not just all "nurture"....can we nevertheless change our collective behavior before it's too late?