23.03.2013 - 26.03.2013 42 °C
We have been at the safari for four days now and have slotted right back in to the routine. Chelsea got to feed the giraffes Saturday morning at 7.30am and spend some time with lung Noi, the keeper. He still can speak no English and Chelsea can still speak no Thai so they mainly talk and laugh at each other not understanding and Lung Noi bosses her around pointing at things that need doing. Afterwards each day we feed and clean the monkeys together in pairs. This has been streamlined since we left and the safety on the cages has improved dramatically so it doesn’t take as long. Today however Chelsea got her hair caught on the door on her way out and as Liam went to un-hook it, King Kong, the alpha male Macaque grabbed Liams hair and held on. He wasn’t being aggressive as he was submissively chattering his teeth, he was just being inquisitive so no damage was done he just wouldn’t let go and wanted to hold on.
After breakfast our days so far have been varied. Since there is only one cub at the front since the tragedy of Ned’s death and Mocha being chained to the table Danni our big cat expert volunteer sits with her all day leaving everyone else free for the other animals. Saturday after breakfast we cleaned the back holding cages of the monkeys and then we designed and made trouble, the langur monkey a puzzle feeder as she is one of our most intelligent monkeys while everyone else built a dog pen. It was a bamboo tube with holes cut into it and she had to pull out wooden pegs for the food to drop down into a coconut. We also designed some nest boxes for all the monkey as soon it will be wet season and they will need some shelter off the ground. The afternoons are so hot now, over forty degrees so working on physical tasks is hard work. In the evening we discussed the main project. The owners want to build a big cat world where some of the tigers and leopards can be housed in new enclosures and customers can pay to watch there enrichment, feed them and take photographs with them. This would mean that Tat the tiger cub, latte the leopard cub and Blue the huge Bengal tiger chained to the table would have lovely big enclosures to play in. We discussed this and a design has been drawn up ready to brief to the owners. It is quite an urgent project as Tat is huge now, bored and it is getting dangerous to take customers into such a small enclosure with her, soon she will be able to jump out.
Sunday was quite a slow day, we did the usual monkey clean and feed and then we designed trouble, the langur monkey and new enclosure design. We want to give her more things to climb and walk on and more puzzles she can play with as she is really smart. We tested the puzzle feeder we made her and she was excellent at it. She removed the wooden pieces and collected the food when it fell. She gave it a little test and had a jump on it, just to check no more food would come out the bottom but it stayed intact. We were really happy she liked it.
On Sunday we were set a training task with our monkeys. Liam picked Junior, his favourite, a big male Macaque who is quite aggressive at times and does not enjoy interaction with humans. Chelsea picked Gramps, her favourite. He is really old and has a bad back leg but he is normally really calm and gentle. He really likes Chelsea and if Liam comes near when she is around he charges the cage at him. We are both really pleased with our picks and are excited to start training them to do things.
Monday was a bit busier for us. In the afternoon after the usual routine we decided to build a fire pit for the volunteers. We now have a nice outside area as the common room is too hot. We have a log and a table but the mosquitoes eat us all alive so everyone suggested a fire pit to smoke them out and that we can use as a makeshift BBQ. The ground was so hot and dry it was like concrete so we had to hose it for a long time until it went muddy and then dig. It was really hard work but it looks really nice. Chelsea felt the need to get inside it when it was really muddy and squelch the mud into the shape she wanted with her feet.
Apparently it was necessary to do this to get it looking nice and smooth, not because she wanted to play in the mud. We were both covered in mud from head to toe when we had finished but it was really fun.
After a quick clothes change we then decided to change the fixtures in Gramps and Lauras cage. Gramps had a long line of tire swings like a ladder that he cant really use anymore because of his bad leg and laura had a swaying platform so we decided we should swap them as they would be more fitting for the other monkey. They both loved there new fixtures and went straight up to investigate them. It is really nice to see the animals enjoying something you have done for them. Either a new log, fixture, puzzle or game, as long as it stimulates them in some way then it is really positive. During the evening monkey feed we all started our training. Chelsea has started calling Gramps her protégé so we can all assume she is taking it serious, we know how competitive she is. We have a clicker and first you have to get them used to the sound and associate it with a treat so every time you give them a piece of food you click. Liam wants to teach Junior to get in his holding cage, stay away from the sliding door and maybe catch. Gramps is not very mobile so Chelsea wants to teach him to speak. He makes little grumble sounds when he is happy so Chelsea wants him to do this on the command ‘hello’. After tea we lit the fire and had a few beers sat outside under our big tree. It was lovely and we just talked and relaxed.
Today has being a bit tough. We cleaned and fed the monkeys and then the two of us and Danni, had a meeting with Joe to brief the plans for the big cat world and the enclosure for Tat the tiger cub and Latte the leopard cub. We thought it would be well received as it is the owners idea to build this but we were wrong. After we had gone through our plans his only concern was money. He said that nothing could be built without us raising the money in advance by selling programmes to customers. We were all disappointed as we feel we cannot be expected to pay or raise the money for this enclosure especially since the volunteers pay to be here and help and by his alone have raised a huge amount. We are not sure what is going to happen next as the owner has taken it to show his father who is the main boss but if Tat and Latte don’t get a new enclosure they will be locked in a tiny cage until they are big enough to be let on the safari or chained to a table somewhere. After the meeting Chelsea planted some sunflower seeds in the garden we are trying to build and Liam sourced some wood to build the nest boxes for wet season. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and playing with the adorable puppies. They are unbelievably cute and lovely little companions after a hard day at the safari.