Monkey Jungle

By Kristy McCaffrey
Over Christmas, my family and I went on our first-ever cruise. My husband and I were celebrating our silver anniversary and wanted a way to bring our college-aged children, significant others, and grandparents together in an easy way. One of our stops was the Dominican Republic, where we visited Monkey Jungle, a sanctuary for squirrel and capuchin monkeys who have been rescued from the exotic pet trade and the inevitable abuse that occurs from it.


A squirrel monkey mama and her baby.


Squirrel monkeys.
We first entered a large enclosure with each of us bearing a plate of banana slices and raisins. Although we were told not to touch the squirrel monkeys, the monkeys didn’t get the memo. While they have little affinity for humans, they’ve been conditioned to approach for food, and to everyone’s delight they hopped all over us. It was a unique opportunity to see these little creatures up close.
My mom making a new friend.
My daughter Kate making an offering.
The mamas were quite agile with the babies on their backs.
My son Ben.
Ben's girlfriend, Layla. She was very nervous, but check
out the photo below.
My son Sam.
Sam's girlfriend, Alex. I think she got this little
guy to pose.
This is me, trying not to startle them, although they
certainly startled us.
My dad.
The monkeys didn't seem to mind all the attention.
In a smaller enclosure nested inside the larger one, the sanctuary also housed several capuchin monkeys. These much bigger primates were so aggressive that we were cautioned not to approach the cage. Capuchins can be quite manipulative and will entice you close with air kisses and the waving of their hands only to steal your iPhone and break it.
Capuchin monkeys.
The capuchins, unfortunately, were all severely abused and bear long-term emotional scars. Our lively guide—a young biology student from Minnesota—shared that socially they are all a bit off. For instance, one of the males has no interest in female capuchins and has instead imprinted his romantic longings on the human biologist. She says there are times when their interactions become a bit weird.
Another male, who is the largest and should therefore be the alpha, has no idea how to attain that position, so a smaller male has filled that spot. Apparently, one day the larger one accidently fought back and by rights became the alpha. He was so distraught that he cried all day because he had no idea what to do. Within a day, the group of females had turned away from him and given alpha status back to the smaller male.


Monkey Jungle is a well-run facility and their work in helping these challenged monkeys is admirable.

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1 comment
Gordon Williams says March 28, 2017

I got some useful information in your post, It was awesome to read, Thanks for sharing Mr Kristy McCaffrey.
Monkey Jungle Tour

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