04.15.09

Blood & Guts

Posted in Bolivia at 5:16 am by Jackson Lee

Chucky, Chairman Mao and capuchins have a lot in common – they are all small, have sharp teeth and possess the temper of a Happy Gilmour golf academy graduate. As the capuchins are usually rescued from hostile, abusive environments they are prone to unpredictably behaviour.The simple act of cleaning a food bowl can result in barrage of screaming, or worse, a physical attack. By the end of the day, the cafe, sprinkled with bandaged fingers, ears, noses, can look like the markup department of a Peter Jackson film set.

Named in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors for their ‘perceived’ resemblance to the hooded monks of the ‘Friars Minor Capuchin’, capuchins interact with each other much like your local, Meatloaf loving, don’t-touch-my-woman-or-all-leave-a-dent-in-your-face threatening, biker gang. Living in complex heirarcacol groups of 10 to 35 members, which are dominated by a single male called the ‘Alpha’, capuchins instinctually treat volunteers with the same sets of rules as each other. Negatively speaking, at its best, a volunteer can be rejected by a group and require reassignment to another part of the park – at its worst, a volunteer can be attacked and require medical attention.
Chris from the Netherlands – overhangingly tall and gifted with that proud Dutch habit of silly sounding English – was one of the worst bitten. Having committed the age of error of telling everyone that morning he was still unbitten, Chris returned later, via the Hospital, with a blood redden bandage tightly wound around his elbow joint. Immediately after an apha male had sunk its pocketknife lengthed fangs into his elbow he had lost feeling to the two outer fingers on his hand. A month later, back wearing clogs and staying at the family windmill in his homeland, his arm was recovering from a complicated surgery which involved removing leg nerve’s and inserting them into his arm.
The worse injuries occur when a monkey bite’s down hard, refuse to let go and the victim struggles against the razor sharpe teeth. Jonno, a thick accented Englishman with a cheerful demeaner, received this treatment when he was bitten on the left index finger. Like anyone, Jonno’s immediate reaction was to pull away from the sharp teeth – the result was a huge amount of skin tearing and severe nerve damage to his finger. The local hospital, who’s services are free for both locals and foreigners (thoughtout Bolivia), treated his hand and told him it would heal within a few weeks. Weeks later, after further poor medical advice and a host of tropical weather associated problems, his finger was amputated from the first knuckle. To his credit, he cotinued on with his year long trip around the world.
Before joining the park, potential volunteers are taken on a candid, volunteer managed introductory tour. Using the same introductory worshop format as the SPECTRE corporation (for budding henchmen), the lifestyle and dangers of the park are clearly explained during the hour long tour. Given these risks almost everyone signs up – the rewards of working with the animals obviously outweighing the potential dangers – in addition to the mere effort to reach the park (located in the back waters of Bolivia) warranting at least a token commitment from most people.
Monkey’s, then, can be dangerous. 300 of them in Greek armour would have easily held off Xerxes and his Persian horde – at least, of course, if they had received 5 fruit-packed meals a day prepared by loving human’s.

Travel, in general, is not safe. South America, even more so, exemplifies the mantra that “life is cheap”. Whether it is riding on the back of a pickup truck to work, overtaking on blind corners or chasing poisonious snakes for a living, the people of South America live free to die tomorrow. This frivolous culture rubs off on us travelers and it is with lowered standards of personal safety that we volunteer at the park – at home we would never have enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with tempremental puma’s, tumtrum throwing monkeys, sharp beaked psychotic parrots, earth rumbling bears or the general hostility of the amazonian jungChucky, Chairman Mao and capuchin’s have a lot in common – they are all small, have sharpe teeth and possess the temper of a Happy Gilmour golf acadamy graduate. As the capuchi’s are usually rescued from hostile, abusive environments they are prone to unpredicatably behaviour.The simple act of cleaning a food bowl can result in barrage of screaming, or worse, a physically attack. By the end of the day, the cafe, sprinkled with bandaged fingers, ears, noses, can look like the markup department of a Peter Jackson film set.

Named in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors for their ‘perceived’ resemblance to the hooded monks of the ‘Friars Minor Capuchin’, capuchins interact with each other much like your local, Meatloaf loving, don’t-touch-my-woman-or-all-leave-a-dent-in-your-face threatening, biker gang. Living in complex heirarcacol groups of 10 to 35 members, which are dominated by a single male called the ‘Alpha’, capuchins instinctually treat volunteers with the same sets of rules as each other. Negatively speaking, at its best, a volunteer can be rejected by a group and require reassignment to another part of the park – at its worst, a volunteer can be attacked and require medical attention.

Chris from the Netherlands – overhangingly tall and gifted with that proud Dutch habit of silly sounding English – was one of the worst bitten. Having committed the age of error of telling everyone that morning he was still unbitten, Chris returned later, via the Hospital, with a blood redden bandage tightly wound around his elbow joint. Immediately after an alpha male had sunk its pocketknife length fangs into his elbow he had lost feeling to the two outer fingers on his hand. A month later, back wearing clogs and staying at the family windmill in his homeland, his arm was recovering from a complicated surgery which involved removing his leg nerve’s and inserting them into his arm.

Capuchin Looking Nasty

The worse injuries occur when a monkey bites down hard, refuse to let go and the victim struggles against the razor sharp teeth. Jonno, a thick accented Englishman with a cheerful demeanor, received this treatment when he was bitten on the left index finger. Like anyone, Jonno’s immediate reaction was to pull away from the sharp teeth – the result was a huge amount of skin tearing and severe nerve damage to his finger. The local hospital, who’s services are free for both locals and foreigners (throughout Bolivia), treated his hand and told him it would heal within a few weeks. Weeks later, after further poor medical advice and a host of tropical weather associated problems, his finger was amputated from the first knuckle. To his credit, he continued on with his year long trip around the world.

The inspiration for the emotion scary

Before joining the park, potential volunteers are taken on a candid, volunteer managed intro tour. Using the same workshop format as the SPECTRE corporation (for budding henchmen), the lifestyle and dangers of the park are clearly explained during the hour long tour. Given these risks almost everyone signs up – the rewards of working with the animals obviously outweighing the potential dangers – in addition to the mere effort to reach the park (located in the back waters of Bolivia) warranting at least a token commitment from most people.

Monkey’s, then, can be dangerous. 300 of them in Greek armour would have easily held off Xerxes and his Persian horde – at least, of course, if they had received 5 fruit-packed meals a day prepared by loving humans.

Travel, in general, is not safe. South America, even more so, exemplifies the mantra that “life is cheap”. Whether it is riding on the back of a pickup truck too work, overtaking on blind corners or chasing poisonous snakes for a living, the people of South America live free to die tomorrow. This frivolous culture rubs off on us travelers and it is with lowered standards of personal safety that we volunteer at places life Inti Wara Yassi – at home we would never have enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with temperamental puma’s, tamtrum throwing monkeys, sharp beaked psychotic parrots, earth rumbling bears or the general hostility of the amazonian jungle.

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