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Monkey Business

It began with a monkey perched on a tree, trying to take a piss at Michele while she was running up a hill. Lucky she saw it on time to avoid the shower. Otherwise a territory would have been marked and I would've witnessed yet another squabble between man and monkey. Our run at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) park on Saturday sure sparked a whole lot of interesting conversation about monkeys.

Just a couple of years back, I saw a monkey snatch away a mobile phone from a terrified jogger at the same park. The poor lady couldn't begin to cajole the bullying creature to return her phone because it was aggressive, sneering at her and those who came in to help. Making matters worse, more of the little, hairy bullies ganged up to intimidate the human coalition. All snarls, teeth and Wolverine paws, they were not the cute creatures some joggers voluntarily fed everyday(and still do) despite the No Feeding The Monkeys signs at the park. 

During my years at University Science Malaysia (USM) in Penang,  a girl was chased after by a mob of seven monkeys. Picture it - a frantic girl running and screaming, a troop of long-tailed macaques follow after, making monkey noises, targeting just that one girl, while everyone else watches helplessly. I don't know what triggered it but they sure didn't like her one bit. Finally the girl tripped, got hurt and the macaques left. I still wonder why. It's as if they wanted her hurt somehow. The same rogue monkeys also got into dorms and stole stuff. Everything from undies, pencil cases, cutleries to food were grabbed if a single window was carelessly left open.

And then there was another long-tailed macaque that I encountered at a pet shop 6 years ago. I was visiting the shop behind Penang Village at TTDI with my boyfriend, Aloy, when my attention focused on this monkey in a cage. It's not always that you see a monkey caged and put up for sale next to Shih Tzus and Lab puppies. So while trying to figure out the legality of the matter, I couldn't help but poke my index finger into the cage to pat the adorable creature. In return, he turned his palm up at me and I was taken aback by how human it seemed - the size of a human baby's but just more elongated, complete with lines, bumpy moons and mounts. He, then, nonchalantly clenched my finger with his left paw, just like how a half asleep human baby would. Seriously, it was almost endearing in a maternal sort of way (for me, at least) till a few seconds later he retracted his paw and started to engage in indecent behaviour while looking at me. I didn't know what was going on till Aloy nudged me.  

Aloy: Look at him ! 

Me  : (Looking) Why ? 

Aloy: Look at what he's doing ! 

Me  : (Still looking, thinking he was scratching) O.K. Whaaat ???

Aloy: He is playing with himself ! (Laughing) I think you got him excited !

When I looked harder, what can I say. I was speechless. Animals mating. Yes, a common sight. But engaging in DIY business ??? I suppose considering how alike monkeys and humans are, it was possible but I had never heard of or seen anything like that before, not even in National Geographics. And with me as the inspiration in this case ? So it was shocking, funny and disturbing all at the same time. Back home, when I thought over the incident, I figured the little fella was lonely and lost. Being taken away from it's troop and caged up at a strange place must've been traumatising - you know, somewhat like King Kong. (But in King Kong's case, Ann Darrow was probably in for a bigger shock than I was since King Kong was a giant monkey). Trying to prison break wasn't working out, so the macaque was probably taking it easy. Lonely or not, life goes on.  

An old poster of the movie King Kong

Note how Ann Darrow
is clenched in
King Kong's fist


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