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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.