Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 03/06/2011

Howl At the moon*


With the impending trip to Kenya I will be realising a wish I’ve hankered after for a long time, to see Cheetah’s in the wild. A second goal should also be realised when visiting a second reserve whilst there, that of seeing Rhinos in their native habitat. This does somewhat leave me devoid of objectives (well, not really I have a list as long as your arm… especially if your arm is the length of one of the great apes… is it? ) but I have a new ambition now, something that was realised during my trip to Twycross Zoo.

Whilst watching the aging chimpanzee’s in their outdoor enclosure,having bypassed many of the cages housing monkeys of varying sizes, an almighty did echoed around the park from the section I had overlooked. So loud and so haunting were the calls that I immediately stopped what I was doing and quickly made my way over to where the cacophony was coming from.

The closer I got, the more deafening the sounds and by the time I reached the cages the calls were so intense I felt a kick of adrenaline, something primeval kicking in. The monkeys in question are ones I’ve photographed before but I can honestly say never really appreciated until that point. The Siamang, quite large for a monkey, were calling among themselves from the various enclosures they were housed in. Whilst nearly all the animals were being vocal, it was obvious that the main instigators in each of the separated areas were the larger, dominant males each of which were in the highest part of the cage. I won’t try to describe the sound but it was incredibly intense and despite the cages, despite the crowd around the enclosures, and despite the lack of trees I was immediately transported to a lush rainforest, the home habitat of the Siamang. The overwhelming need to witness this tribal calling first hand in their home environment was all-consuming and so I have a new goal.

The Siamang’s aren’t the loudest of the primates, this honour goes to the Howler Monkey; if that’s how much noise a Siamang can make I look forward to hearing Howler Monkeys howl. Ooh actually there’s another thing to add to my list of things I want to witness… I think I’m going to need a longer piece of paper.

* I know, the song was called “Bark at the moon” by Ozzy Osbourne – I was just adjusting it to fit my need. Interestingly this is the only heavy metal single/album that I have in my collection!

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