In 2006, I was given a VIP tour of Parrot Jungle in Miami (now it’s called Jungle Island). I got to get in the cage with a Komodo Dragon, a private viewing of a weird Australian bird, and feeding of the twin orangutans. During the tour, the people in charge saw that the animals were very comfortable with me, and the twins took to me instantly. After the tour, they asked if I would be willing to work with the “girls” (as they called them).
I agreed and on Mondays, I made the trek from Fort Lauderdale to Miami to be enclosed in the cage with the girls to provide mental stimulation and to assist in taking care of them. For a few months, I was part of the exhibit.
One of the women I worked with, Jennie, was from France and she was totally the monkey/ape mother. She would take the monkeys and apes home with her at night so they would not be alone.
She and I would sometimes take the girls around the park after all the visitors left in a little red wagon and they would play on the playground.
Like I did with my sister when she was a child, I was able to create some toys from what they had and the girls loved it. One example-they had a children’s toy car (big enough for one of them to get in) and I tied it to the top of the cage so that it looked like it was flying and they would fight to get in the car. I guess they were starved for something new.
When coming in on Mondays, I would feed the Parrots and walk around the park visiting with the Liger (Lion/Tiger mix).
This was the realization of a lifelong dream of mine. Yes, I was one of those people who wanted a monkey.
I wouldn’t change that time with them-it was a magical time.