Page 11 - Wild Hope - Vol 9
P. 11

His face is creamy pink and wrinkled, with perfect
                                                     heart-shaped nostrils and four teeth.

                 his head, and, with puckered lips, he   beard (which even females have) and a   nestles alongside, tugging on his ear or
                 “moos.” It looks and sounds pitiful, and   low, flat vocalization that sounds remark-  draping his arm around him.
                 it’s meant to. That’s usually followed by    ably like a duck. Nunu is a sweet-natured   This becomes the routine. Sunshine
                 a convulsive “Aaeenh! Aaeenh!”      crowned guenon female with a distinc-  spends his evenings and nights in my
                   We play throughout the day so he   tive mohawk and a soft, lilting bird-like   room, and at first light I carry him to his
                 can develop his skills and confidence,   chirp. When these two had been intro-  new daytime home, where he launches
                 interspersed with meals and bottles. After   duced, Nunu was intimidated, but by the   himself from my arms for his pressing
                 dinner, it’s bedtime. My goal is to put    second day she and Abida were insepa-  playdate.
                 him to sleep stress-free. First, we chase   rable. Abida and Nunu are older than   Two weeks before my departure,
                 each other around my room, both of us   Sunshine (who’s now about six months),   Rachel, the sanctuary director, says it’s
                 laughing. Then he climbs. As part of that   but they’re half his size.   time for Sunshine to transition to nights
                 game, I coax him to hop in and out of   I’ve let Sunshine watch them from   with Abida and Nunu. She knows it’ll be
                 his sleeping cage, hoping he’ll get drowsy   outside their habitat. The day finally   harder on me than on Sunshine, so she
                 and stay there. When that doesn’t work,                                 lets me move to a room within earshot
                 I set him on my foot. He instinctively                                  of their enclosure for two nights. After
                 wraps himself around my ankle. Then I                                   an initial few minutes of lamentations
                 pace, swinging my leg like a pendulum—                                  on Sunshine’s part as darkness settles in,
                 a carnival ride for Sunshine. It never fails.                           all is quiet.
                 Fast asleep in minutes. I gently pry him
                 off my leg and ease him into his waiting                                When I return to the sanctuary a year
                 bed of soft cloths.                                                     later, I find Sunshine thriving with
                                                                                         his own kind, having been introduced
                 In the night, I’ll bottle-feed Sunshine                                 into the larger of two baboon troops in
                 several times through his cage door.                                    their dense forest enclosure. Spotting a
                 Sometimes, he won’t want to go back                                     cluster of young baboons romping next
                 to sleep alone, since he’d typically be                                 to several adults, I call out his name,
                 enveloped by his mother. That’s when                                    “Sunshine! Sunshine!” The smallest,
                 I have to muster up some tough love                                     fuzziest one peels off from the group,
                 because I’m neither his mother nor   arrives when I put the eager boy in with   comes over to the edge of the habitat and
                 a baboon, so it’ll be less traumatic for   them. Sunshine, ecstatic, lunges towards   sits, quietly looking at me. I recognize
                 him in the long run if he doesn’t attach   them sporting his play face—mouth wide   his mischievous grin. He doesn’t call out,
                 too strongly to me. I poke my fingers   open. That scares them. With startled   which makes me very happy. He doesn’t
                 through his cage, and Sunshine will fall   cries they run to the far corner. Then, in-  need me anymore. But perhaps my
                 asleep, either pressed against them or   dignant that he’d frightened them, they   voice, and my name for him, are fond,
                 sucking on one, hungry for that innate   rush back and nip him. Sunshine doesn’t   distant memories. And there he stays,
                 primal contact.                     understand. By the next day, though, the   just gazing at me, until I walk away, softly
                   Sunshine’s three-month quarantine   monkeys realize Sunshine is just a big,   whispering, “Good bye, Sunshine.”
                 period with me completed, the baby   goofy baby. They become his buddies   Almost four years later, I’m back
                 baboon is ready, more than ready, to   and his nurturers.               again. Sunshine is now a handsome,
                 meet his first monkey friends. Abida   Abida’s favorite pastime soon involves   confident young fellow in his troop, and
                 and Nunu are young monkeys who,     initiating wrestling matches with the   he no longer responds to my calling his
                 when they’re big enough, will join a   baboon, who laughs nonstop as they    name. Just as it should be. wh
                 large group of varied guenon monkey   roll around on the hammock before
                 species in their lushly-forested sanctuary   falling onto the floor thickly carpeted   Find out how Ape Action Africa is saving chimpanzees and
                 enclosure. Abida is a male De Brazza’s,   with forest leaves. Occasionally, during    gorillas at and follow on social media
                 distinguished by a silky, cream-colored   Sunshine’s frequent baby naps, Abida   @apeactionafrica.

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