Monday, May 16, 2011

Real Zoo #7: Kimba

Kim was an African spot- nosed guenon, a really lovely little monkey and unlike many captive primates quite sane, but she was also a domineering little prima donna; she treated people the way Ataika tends to treat dogs, as lesser beings that were good as servants but who occasionally needed a good bite to keep them in line. This seemed funny if you were not on the receiving end as she was so small and elegant (like Taik) that you might think her bites wouldn't hurt much. You would be wrong. And unlike Taik she was a monkey and could rain down destruction from above.

Other Steve:

"When Kim was little, her keepers (Paul, K, Richard) established dominance and kept it. Those who came along after she was mature fared less well. I was one of the many. We started off well enough and worked together for over a year before she caught me in a moment of weakness. K and I were doing a Zoomobile in a small classroom full of kids crowded around us. I had Kim on leash and was just saying to myself, “This is unwise. She moves like lightning. Somebody could get torn up here.” Just then, Kim leapt at a kid and I yanked the leash hard toward me. I grabbed her with what I knew was a sacrificial hand and she ripped open my finger. K moved very quickly, pinning her and back in the cage she went. Then we calmly did the customary “That’s why monkeys don’t make good pets” lesson, as the blood poured down my raised arm.

"That was one class that really got the message. Dr S [Do you see a recurring pattern in these stories? SB] fixed me up later.

"The only person who handled the adult Kim well was G M. He had heard all the other stories and decided that a confrontation was inevitable, so he planned an offense. One day when they were together and were perfectly calm, he grabbed her hard and bit her. This had never happened to Kim before. After that, G was King of the Guenons."

Paul's story in response also reveals the Macchiavellian mind of our supervisor Richard:

"Yeah, I love G's plan, too. King of the Guenons is not a title to be taken lightly.

"Do ya recall the escaped Kim incident with Richard? He was, without a doubt, her superior and she knew it. But..... one fine day she got away from him (or maybe from someone else, I don't know) in the Rotunda. We were closed at the time. She had a grand time, running around the circular shelf at the top of the building. Remember?- we had slide projectors up there, running film loop of animals projecting across the building from one side to the other.

"Richard nicely called to Kim to come down. Later he screamed, pleaded, demanded, begged, etc., and there is no way she would come down. He tried all the usual tricks, including ignoring her and eating treats in front of her, and so on. Nothing worked. Then he noticed V R [sweet tall vegetarian woman with a voice and accent rather like a young Julia Child-- SB] in the kitchen. And Kim loved to attack V R (or anyone else).

"So, or course, Richard waited til Kim was above the kitchen door, and called so sweetly "Oh V, would come out here for a moment?" Innocent V came waltzing out into the Rotunda, Kim dove for her head, and Richard plucked little Kim right out of the air. It was a beautiful move. And was V PISSED!!! "YOU USED ME YOU USED ME YOU USED ME" But it worked."

Incidentally I came up with the same strategy as Glen but not in his cool rational manner. I was on the 'mobile at a school with K and Kim and she ran up to me, grabbed my arm, and bit me HARD. So I grabbed hers and did the same, instantly. She shrieked but did not bite me again.

Always wondered what the sight of a long- haired zookeeper biting a monkey did to those third- graders though...

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