Thursday, 10 April 2014

A working Hobby

Resident Roundup

  It is day four of my work experience, and I would like to introduce you to a few of the animals that have made my week so special.
Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx)
  There are plenty of wonderful animals at the Sanctuary, but Titch is my favourite. I have seen pictures of mandrills before, watched them on television, but nothing compares to the vivid colours of real life. 
  We first met on Monday, when he approached with the assurance of a painted tribesman. His face exploded colour, yet it was his eyes that held my attention the most: burnt orange suns, glowing behind a partial eclipse. From his slate grey brow, his golden mane projects both the power of a lion and the kindness of a grandfather. He is intimidating, and most certainly strong, yet his information board reveals a tragic, vulnerable side, which makes me wonder about his true character, and the importance of getting beyond the unfamiliar colours of his skin. 
 His fingers could easily be human, and should remind us of the similarities between our species, if we need such similarities to help practice tolerance. 
  Don't miss the story of Titch's rescue on "Rhys Jones's Wildlife Patrol" on Monday 14th April. It's on BBC 1 Wales at 7.30 pm.
Lar gibbon (Hylobates  lar)
  Having dexterous hands is common amongst primates, as demonstrated here by Oliver, holding his cup and corn. Good grip is particularly important for gibbons, whose preferred method of travel is to brachiate (swing) through the trees.  Oliver's size is deceptive, looking very small when scrunched into the grass, but long when hanging or swinging. He has a muscular upper body, and very long arms that he holds awkwardly above his head when walking short distances. Oliver is very cute, with a naturally grumpy expression framed with white hair. His communication with his fellow gibbons can be very loud, and heard beyond the Sanctuary.  They sing an array of melodies to each other, in which is a language we are yet to fully understand.

Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas)
  There is something about the hamadryas baboons that makes you want to cuddle them on sight. Until you see their teeth, that is. When making my notes, I instinctively described them as "precious", knowing it wasn't quite the right word I was looking for. Perhaps whatever quality I was looking to describe is the same seen by the ancient Egyptians, who saw them as sacred to Thoth, a powerful God. However, their behaviour isn't always particularly God-like, and it can be a rough and tumble society, which is as aggressive as it is gentle.
    The female is a brown colour, while the males wear a silver grey cape, and are a lot larger. All baboons have rough spots on their rears called ischial callosites which makes sitting on rocks and in trees more comfortable.
Male hamadryas baboon
  There is something about raccoons that really arouses my interest. I don't know whether it's their ability to stealthily move around in the night, unseen, or their acrobatic skill, but there is something so thought provoking about these ninja resembling rascals. 
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
  The most striking thing about the raccoon has to be the conker-like nose attached on the end of it's thin, pointy muzzle. Before now I had never seen their noses up close, and never knew them to be so large, so this was definitely a surprising feature. I also noticed that their ears bear similarities to felines, and that their whiskers can be compared to spider-webs on an autumn day. As well as their beauty, there is a certain ferocity about their vampiric fangs, and a sense of mystery with their partially masked faces.
  It seems ironic that people have the cheek to label them as pests and vermin, when they use their fur for the ill-considered fashion industry. It is morally wrong.
  If sight of the lemurs doesn't make you stop and admire them, then their incredible sound will. Collectively, they rumble like a chugging motorbike whenever they are startled or aroused.
Mayotte brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus mayottensis) and
the Black and white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata variegata)
  There are two types of lemur at the Sanctuary: mayotte  and ruffed. The mayotte is smaller and brown, with caramel eyes, while the ruff lemurs are black and white, with cotton whiskers, and sliced grape eyes that stare intensely. They have mini sabre teeth that protrude from their long muzzle, Muppet-like fingers, and robe-tie tails. With their lofted noses and Shakespearian ruffs, they inquisitively approach with a stare of superiority, yet they are one of the friendliest animals here.
  I am really enjoying my time at the Sanctuary, and learning a great deal. I hope this has been of interest to you, also. Next, we will be looking at the chimpanzees' behaviour.   

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