The Pet Fairy decided to become a tourist in her own country recently and went on a little road trip.
The first place she visited was BUSH BABIES MONKEY SACTUARY near Hartebeespoort Dam. Very much like Monkeyland on the garden route, Bush Babies is a monkey sanctuary where the monkeys live (virtually) free in a large tract of land encircled by electric fences. Visitors are taken on a one hour guided tour of the facility .... The entire sanctuary is criss crossed with raised walkways to minimise human impact on the monkey's habitat and includes a trip over a rope bridge and quite a bit of clambering - so remember to wear comfortable shoes! The first thing that struck the Pet Fairy and her party on entering the sanctuary was the incredible natural forest .... not at all what you expect to see based on what you observe from your car on the way in! The monkeys at Bush Babies are mostly rescued from the pet trade (Why oh why do people think monkeys make good pets?) and Bush Babies has to train them to be monkeys again.... which they do in rather clever ways. The Pet Fairy specially liked the "monkey chairs" which were scattered all over the sanctuary .... since the rescued monkeys are used to sitting on chairs in human homes ... Bush Babies has installed fake rocks on metal spikes driven into the ground .... so that the monkeys gradually get used to sitting on rocks instead of chairs ... inspired! On the Pet Fairy's tour we encountered a mixed group of Capuchins, a small group of squirrel monkeys, some brown lemurs and a SPIDER MONKEY...
This character was still very drawn to humans as it had been raised as a house pet. Our guide saw her coming and warned us all to stand with our arms crossed and not engage her at all ... which turned out to be VERY hard to do as she clambered over every member of our group.... now ... for those of you who haven't had the experience of having a spider monkey about your person - they are HEAVY and very focussed on their own agenda ... it's quite difficult to stand still with your arms crossed with several kilos of moveable monkey clambering all over you and grabbing you around the neck - as this lady found out!
A few seconds after this - the spider monkey moved on to another member of our group and grabbed her spectacles! The monkey then rushed off and dropped the specs over the side of the walk way - narrowly missing the open mouth of an abandoned well below ..... the specs were retrieved undamaged but the Pet Fairy had to laugh at the thought of what THAT insurance claim would have looked like "Errrrr ... I'd like to claim for my specs. I was mugged by a spider monkey who dropped my glasses down a well"
All in all an amazing experience! These guys are doing such worthwhile work and as always - the Pet Fairy wonders what our world would be like without folk like this helping out animals in need..
Be warned though - you are guaranteed to have an incredible interactive experience and get closer to monkeys than you ever have before. The guides are chock-full of interesting facts about their charges and the scenary is awesome BUT entrance to Bush Babies is quite pricey with each member of our party shelling out just under R200 per head to enter the sanctuary.