Yesterday, we met my folks on the train on the way to Southampton, where we changed to go to Wool. An early start (train at 7:30 from Brighton) meant we had arrived at Monkey World by about 10:45. This was Laz’s first visit to the park, and it was great fun introducing him to some of our simian friends.
As usual, I spent a lot of time at the orang utan nursery. Hsiao-ning hadn’t settled in the other group of orangs, so the staff had let her go back into the nursery, and it was a beautiful thing for me to be able to ‘talk’ to her and play with her again. I took loads of photos, one of which I believe shows how she was genuinely pleased to see me:
See the love in those eyes? Hard to ignore, isn’t it? We played for ages, Hsiao-ning pedalling her feet against the toughened glass in her excitement, hanging upside down, showing off her new grown-up teeth (which must have been hurting her, too, poor little girl):
At one point, I took my hat off and pretended to put it on her head, and she followed it wherever it went – up, down, back up, back down – I turned it round so she could have a look at the outside of it, but she wasn’t as interested in that as she was the lining. What was in there? What was it for? Could she wear it? Play with it? It was all very exciting for her. (Yes, and me!)
We also spent time with Pung-yo (Chinese for ‘friend’) and his growing family of golden-cheeked gibbons. When we arrived, Pung-yo went bananas as soon as he saw my mum, showing off and chattering away like crazy:
And as for Gordon – I can think of no way to tell you how I felt other than that I was completely gobsmacked. I didn’t recognise my boy at first. I’ve been sponsoring him since he was 18 months old and he’s now 14 and a father. In the last few months, he’s been growing his cheek pads, and has altered considerably as a result. He’s much bigger and more imposing now, a magnificent-looking boy, and I’m so proud of him. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a great photo, but I did get close to him, so this one will have to do:
A visit to the chimp nursery was fun. I was playing peek-a-boo with Rodders, left for a few moments and then went back, and I was then met with a resounding thump on the glass as he swung at full speed to greet me!
We were so preoccupied with Hananya’s group that we were almost too late to get hot food, but we did manage, and I went into the gift shop. Then we went back, as I felt I’d torn Laz away from the chimps so we could eat, and so we said our goodbyes as they were building nests to curl up in bed.
The day went so quickly, and it was one of the best days at Monkey World I’ve ever had. If you’ve never been, do go. If it’s a long journey, let me tell you now, and with no exaggeration: It is worth every minute of travelling. Until you’ve made full eye contact with an ape, believe me – you have no idea how overwhelming it is. It’s something everyone should experience.