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Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy News Story and Ordinary Life

There have been no major developments here recently, but sometimes no news is good news. That's because so much of the news is full of sensationalism, and "we had a nice day" is not news.

I did hear an encouraging news story recently, and I will share it with you:

A domesticated monkey by the name of Harley in Chillicothe, Missouri gave its owner the slip and went for a little walk around the neighborhood. A sheriff's deputy, alerted to fact that monkey was missing and had been spotted, found Harley a few houses away from home. Knowing the monkey well from previous meetings, he had a quiet conversation with Harley, and then he asked the six year old Capuchin to get in his truck so he could take him home. Harley complied and hopped into the truck. The officer took him home, and that is the end of the story.

This is exactly how law enforcement and domesticated primates should interact. I love this story, because nobody was hurt, the officer treated the monkey decently and the monkey reciprocated by doing as told, and nobody blamed the owner, and no confiscation or arrest took place. It is such a non-incident that arguably it does not qualify as news. But I'm glad it made the news, because we are constantly bombarded with bad stories to the point where people don't realize this is the normal course of events, and the others are unfortunate flukes.

For instance, every day around here, nothing much happens, even though Bow is a post-pubescent male chimpanzee and all sorts of  self-appointed experts will suggest that there is no way a human can co-exist peacefully with a chimpanzee who is not an infant or a toddler.

Now I cannot report that something spectacular happens here every day, though as a researcher I would like to have more breakthroughs. Like most people,  our family has very routine lives, day by day. There are lots of quiet little moments that do not mean anything in particular to anyone else, but there is contentment, and certainly there is peace.

Of course, we might like to have more in our lives -- an island for Bow and a mate -- and better proof of what he can do. But this does not mean that our ordinary lives are without interest.

The peony is unfurling itself, slowly and surely with the help of the ever watchful black ants.

There has been a resurgence of wildlife sightings on my property. I sat on my porch a couple of days ago and saw both a rabbit and some deer.

Certainly they were cautious and stayed far away, but I am wondering if  Mother Cat is still around watching the kitten in the barn, I continue to drop in on the kitten and offer it food, and it seems to be doing well.

I hope the mother is still around, though, so it can teach the kitten how to hunt. I am not adopting it, so it needs to learn the skills of a free cat. I hope, however, that most of its kills are mice, not rabbits.

There is one rabbit that I keep seeing around, but I don't know how many others remain completely invisible to me.

Sometimes the rabbit seems to wait for me to draw closer before it bounds away.

After the wild roses blossomed, I got to witness a wide variety of bees and bee-like insects enjoying them.

Even the bumblebees have moved on from the tulip tree flowers to the wild roses.

The roses vary in color depending on where they are growing.

The roses deep in the woods seem most pink. But already, some of the roses are starting to fade, and the newest wildflower to bloom is the daisy.

They stand crowded together in the field and sway in the breeze.

I report on all of these developments to Bow, and he sometimes actually sends me off to explore outside, to make sure no one is trespassing on our property. He has a concern about unwanted invaders that he also sometimes shares with Lawrence. Lawrence has told me that many times Bow has sent him out to check that no one was out there. But if the visitor is someone Bow knows, like the delivery lady, he is always happy to see them and spend some time socializing with them.

Bow is very cooperative when it comes to filming. He was relaxing this morning when I wanted to shoot some video of him, and I asked him to look at me. He did, but when he saw I was filming, he decided on his own it would be a good idea to make faces at the camera.

I think the key to peaceful living is getting to know people and developing a relationship. Just like the monkey in Chillicothe, Bow understands language and responds well to people he knows and trusts. A big city would not be a good place to raise a non-human primate, because it contains so many strangers, and you can't possibly get to know them all. That's why so much bad news seems to come out of big cities, especially when strangers confront strangers.

It's not that strangers are necessarily bad, but it's not possible to develop instantaneous relationships with people you have only just met. I think there is a lot more room for misunderstanding in a big city not just for non-humans but for humans as well. Once you know someone, you know what to expect. If they are autistic, or hard of hearing or have some other disability that makes them not respond in the same way as others, you can make allowances for the differences, and things will go smoothly. Even humans do not belong to a cookie cutter array of pre-set behaviors that everyone can predict. Knowing what to expect from each individual cuts down on unnecessary discord. We can learn to make allowances for people we know, and strangers can become friends. But until we get to know someone well, just like Bow, we all tend to be on our guard.


  1. Haha, I liked his faces he made to the camera. I know what you mean by all the violence and aggression in the news lately. Sometimes I just sit and listen t the wildlife around me and not even bother with turning on the TV. I have too much gardeing to do then to sit and listen to stupid human stuff.

    1. Hi, Debbie. I am like you. I gave up on watching TV news a long time ago, Listening to the wildlife is much more entertaining and relaxing.

  2. I think the cat will intuitively be able to hunt without its mom at this point. I know I had to keep our one cat away from birds, and she was a kitten we raised from a very young age without her mom.

    1. Hi, Julia. I certainly hope so, although I'd like to think its mother is still around some of the time, looking after it.

    2. Maybe the mom is really elusive, but I wonder why you have not seen her once in all this time. She must still be hiding.

    3. Yeah, I wonder about that, too.I think the mother needs to teach the kitten to eat what it catches, not just how to kill prey. I know domesticated cats can still capture and kill small animals. But do they actually eat what they kill?