Jungle News: April 24, 2003

Ebi Comes to Jungle Friends
by Lee Ward and CJ Bain

The plan for getting Ebi from Texas to Jungle Friends sounded simple enough: rent a cargo van; load Ebi and my own monk, Korey, into travel cages; drive to Florida. But with two monkeys involved, nothing is ever that simple!

After two months as a guest in our house, Ebi, a weeper capuchin rescued in Louisiana, was finally making the trip to Jungle Friends. He had always been species isolated, so it had been a novelty for him to live "next door" to Korey - although, since she is a white-face capuchin (and a princess), they don't really speak the same language. Romance was not in the air. CJ and I could hardly wait to get them both to Jungle Friends, where they would each be living, playing and grooming with others monks like themselves.

The monkeys knew something big was going to happen. I guess all the boxes and luggage… and cages… going out the door were a big clue. They had plenty of time to get worked up, since prepping the van took about four times longer than planned.

I'd already set up the travel cages with hammocks, tons of blankets, food, water, and toys. But alas, the van in the driveway just wasn't the same size and shape as the one in my imagination, so creativity was called for.

The two cages fit side by side at the back - just barely. Now I had to rig up dividers and barriers, so the monkeys couldn't reach into each other's cages (didn't want to deliver monks minus fingers or other appendages), and so the luggage and the van "features" (like exposed wiring and door latches) were out of reach of Ebi's inquisitive fingers… and toes… and tail.

When I went into Ebi's cage, probably for the last time, to catch him, he knew that this was not a routine cage cleaning or playtime. He did not choose to be caught. He seemed to delight in out-maneuvering me, and only after much chasing and many displays of his speed and agility was I able, once again to catch him by his tail.

I bundled him into his travel cage and left CJ with him while I went back for a repeat performance with Korey. Ebi proceeded to put all the monkey obstacles to the test. He explored his full reach in all directions, tried banging and coaxing every lock, and gave the whole cage a good shaking.

Finally, hours behind schedule, everything was loaded and we were ready to leave for JF! But Ebi had one more surprise for us. Before we'd even left our neighborhood behind, we heard a loud thump behind us.

The only thing in the van I'd failed to secure was a case of canned primate food sitting on top of Ebi's cage. It had slid forward into the monkey zone. Ebi was triumphantly grabbing cans from the box and lobbing them toward the front of the van!

After we took Ebi's projectiles away, the trip was mostly uneventful. I did tell Ebi when we passed his old home, but I quickly let him know that he was going someplace much better this time.

Both monkeys slept through most of the trip. I think the sounds of the van and the disruption of their sleep schedule just wore them out - though Ebi did get up frequently to perch on the edge of his hammock and stare in fascination out the rear window. And try those cage locks one more time.

We drove straight through, with the human primates alternating driving and naps. When it was my turn to sleep I curled up in the back by Korey's cage and napped with her one last time. She would groom my hair, then lay down to sleep holding onto my hair or hand, whichever was convenient. Whenever a bump in the road disturbed her nap, she would grab my hand with both of hers and glare at CJ as if to say "Whoa, mommy, did you get your license out of a box of Cracker Jacks? There's some precious cargo back here!! Me!! (Not to mention that stinky boy next to me!)"

We arrived at JF in record time… that is, we broke the record for the longest drive to Gainesville yet. Daylight was fading so we had to quickly move the monkeys into their new habitats. Ebi was delighted with his new space. He thought the cage at my house was big -- this one was even bigger. After 20 hours in the van it was great to stretch his legs and relax. He wouldn't worry about those funny runway things, leading to all those other cages, and all those other monkeys, until later…

Ebi has now been at Jungle Friends for almost a month, and - with some coaching and bribery from me and his other human caregivers - has mastered the runway system that lets us shift monkeys from habitat to habitat.

I am happy to report that Ebi has moved in with our "mature" monkey group, Jimmy Sr. (the pet shop monkey from NY) and Chi-Chi, our ex-circus monk and #1 artist. When we opened the runway for Ebi, he moved right in to his new territory and went exploring, while his new "family" headed to his habitat to forage. Except for a couple of spats with Jimmy Sr. over a food bowl (boys will be boys), all is well with the new group in monkey land. At last, Ebi is healthy, happy, and home - for good - at Jungle Friends.

Korey also has made some new friends at JF…she is now sharing the spacious 'Cabana' and habitats with not only Kelli (the resident JF princess) but also with Dodger and Corky. But romance is still not in the air. Korey and Kelli (who share a love of luxury and strong sense of their own importance) prefer to neglect the guys and spend their time lounging in the air-conditioned indoor habitats. Princesses will be princesses, after all.

Click on "Rescue in the Bayou" and learn about Ebi's rescue in Louisiana.