Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monkeys and Penguins

We've decided to spend another two months in Cape Town.  Lara is doing some volunteer work with a children's shelter to get an idea of the volunteer sector here and I'm playing around with writing a nove. On Monday we are moving to a new apartment close to the beach in a place called Sea Point. It's about 5 minutes from downtown Cape Town so it'll still be very central.

South African has been great so far but I haven't talked about any of our trips so I thought I'd tell you about two cute animal experiences we had.

A few weeks ago we went to a place called World of Birds which is a big animal rescue place on the Cape Peninsula. Almost all the animals at World of Birds are injured animals which couldn't be re-released, and one thing that makes it really nice is that you can often go right into the cages with them and see the up close. While I loved the owls and parrots and other birds the best experience by far was the monkeys. They have a big forested cage which is full of spider monkeys, and you can go in with them. The monkeys are about the size of a beer b

ottle and are very tame and will crawl all over you. They are also very clever so they stick their hands into your pockets, try to open zippers on backpacks, etc...

Lara is the big one in the middle

We hung around for a while and one of the volunteers showed us that she had some raisins. She gave the raisins to me and the monkeys went wild. I had about 15 of them on me, all of them trying to open my fist with their tiny little paws. It was very, very cute although the monkeys do have a habit of peeing on you from time to time and my shirt smelled a little ripe the next day.

The other really great place we went to was Boulder's Beach, which is one of the few on-shore nesting places for African Penguins. We knew we were in for a treat when we saw a sign that said “look out for Penguins under vehicles.” There were penguins everywhere on the beach although they were molting so they weren't in the water. The molting made them look very cute though because a lot of them had big clumps of fluffy winter feathers mixed with the sleeker summer feathers.

Lara admires a penguin on the beach.

The Penguins were so tame that we could just walk up and grab them if we wanted to, although we didn't because that would be bad form. Actually, penguins also have very big beaks that rip small fishes apart so I imagine they could do some pretty serious damage.

I have to say I do like the more interactive approach where you can get very close to the animals. I can appreciate the logic of zoos where they keep a real gap between the humans and the animals, but in World of Birds it seemed to me that the animals enjoyed having the people around. Birds, especially parrots and other clever social ones, get bored easily and having people close by can be very stimulating if they are tame enough not to be frightened.

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