monkeying around in phalaborwa, south africa

One day last summer I got home after a long day at work and flicked on my computer to find an ad for a volunteer project in South Africa at a monkey rehabilitation centre. Well, on a whim I signed up for it, and 8 months later I can safely say it was the best thing I ever did.

The decision to volunteer not only ignited into action living out this “adventure” dream of mine, but in and of itself was one of the most eye-opening and incredible experiences of my life.

Vervets

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On my first day, I was “accepted” by the baboons and had been introduced to all the orphaned vervets at the centre, and by the time I went to bed that night I knew that two weeks would not be enough. It wasn’t. But it was enough, at least, to learn the basics of monkey behaviour, how to “talk” to them, and was a crash course in South African politics regarding monkeys.

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I was also able to contribute directly to personalized care for the monkeys’ rehabilitation processes and learn about the stages of preparing them to be re-introduced to the wild. More than that, it was the chance to interact with these incredible creatures I’d have a hard time ever calling “just animals.” Their expressions and social behaviour is so defined and complex, you can’t help but anthropomorphize with them.

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If you ever have the opportunity to look a monkey in the eye while their little fingers grip your own, you realize that they have a way of sizing you up in a glance and wiggling their way into your soul. (I swear they can see it, too.)

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If you would like to learn more about the centre, volunteer, or make a donation, then visit their website  in the links (bottom right), for Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

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