Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mad lesson on Monkeys: What the monkeys taught me

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are native to Singapore.

Sunday 16th November 2009
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

We use the term monkey for mild misdemeanours, usually of the impish variety, and attributed to small children. Example, a house guest might apologize sheepishly for her child ripping your teddy bear’s ears off with Oh he’s such a little monkey, isn’t he. What would real monkeys think of this? Where did this negative comparison spring from? There are monkeys who do misbehave. The Penang Botanic Gardens has cases of monkeys who have attacked children, stolen food, destroyed car upholstery. But the CTEP MAD Lesson on Sunday 16th showed the monkey side of the story. Monkeys get up to monkey tricks because humans do. We feed them killer food like potato chips ignoring signs that state clearly DON’T. We poke and prod them with tree branches. We tease them with food withdrawing it when the monkey approaches. MAD’s lesson highlights the fact that monkeys just want to mind their monkey business. If we destroy their homes, the trees and forests, where do you want them to go? If we take away their food sources, what will they eat? If we use them for cheap entertainment, do we really think they’ll sit back and enjoy it? Especially since they’re probably more intelligent than the adults who think it funny to aggravate them. MAD brought such lessons across using the talents of Andrew, CTEP’s naturalist educator, with CTEP’s very own Vilma assisting, but the top attraction that day was the bonus performance by Vilma’s trainee and graduate teachers from the National Institute of Education with their story-puppet show. The whole lesson held 17 children (no little monkeys) captive, conveying a wealth of information about the monkey world with delightful variety. These children are all ready to make a difference with their knowledge about Long-tailed Macaques, Banded Leaf Monkeys, that monkeys are neither ape nor chimpanzee, they travel in troops of 30, use their tails for balance and hands to swing about. The most significant point the lesson made perhaps was that monkeys are human in their need to survive, keep their family together, eat, drink, and be merry. We don’t want anyone to take this from us, let the monkeys do the same!

By Talking Tiger


Andrew talking about the Banded Leaf Monkey with Tia assisting

Oscar’s (9 years old) monkey

Supermonkey, the superhero puppet that bridges communication between people and monkeys

Kids making a presentation on the Banded Leaf Monkey

A take-home message

Kid’s reflections

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