It will soon be the time of the year again with new members arriving in droves in Monkey Hill.
Indeed the first baby will probably arrive in less than 4 weeks’ time but the baby boom won’t start until a month or so later between June and July.
My bet again this year is that Dolly will pop the first baby and I’m pretty sure that it will look like either Baty and Spocky again with those big bat ears !
All rhesus macaques are promiscuous and one would assume that a male which plays no part in the upbringing of his offspring would probably has minimum bonding with his babies – but I was pleasantly surprised to find one exception and that is Grandee, one of the co-dominant alphas in our gang who took time to care for his babies born last year – Spocky and Vivy on several occasions. He’s probably better than some human dads and put them to shame !
Grandee is just one exceptional alpha male !
It’s always difficult to know who a baby’s father is – except those of Grandee. This year I’m preety sure though that Taggy, one of the lesser alpha males is the father to Gypsy’s baby if she’s indeed pregnant ! For the others I think we’ll never know 🙂
It’s not just cruelty, it’s an affront to decency. Enslaving an animal to perform against its nature is already shameful enough but this plunge it to a new low .
Could you imagine the stress to the mother and its infant ? This is not a rare happening, it’s not freak and it’s actually a practice to prey on our heart. It’s an insult to motherhood.
Just a click away and you’ll be aghast at the horrid images of “ Topeng Monyet “ or Dancing Monkey in Indonesia. The practice has no cultural element in it at its present form as it is nowadays a largely unregulated commercial enterprise being run by gangs who rent out to street children, heavily indebted ( hence they work for free ) to perform the monkeys at traffic intersections or along the roadsides. Any money gained for the most part will be taken away by the gang. The kids will learn nothing useful for themselves and will never be able to extricate themselves from their debt, so in a way they are just as unfortunate as their monkeys, those who enslave are themselves slaves as well.
A grown-up monkey cannot be trained. To make a monkey stand upright and learn to perform humanly-like antics the trainer has to start with a baby monkey fresh – each one is ripped from its mother in the wild forest by the poachers and bought from the infamous animal market in Jakarta by the trainer. They are best to train between 7-8 months old for they are more or less developed with good muscles yet still pliable with their joints and ligaments. Nevertheless about half of them still perish during the training to make them walk upright, against their nature. Only successful monkeys could then be rented out but once they hit adulthood many of them will become too aggressive and uncooperative and have to be put down. Some may even end up in restaurants specializing in monkey cuisines. One way or the other their demises are ensured. As their working life is not long, the business relies on the availability of baby monkeys in the animal market to be trained constantly to replace those no longer able to perform. Thus it’s a all about supply and demand.
Seeing and experiencing enough cruelties themselves day in and day out I could imagine everyone involved in Topeng Monyet will more or less be despairing at humanity themselves. Cruelty begets more cruelty, it will never lead them out of poverty.
Thanks to the work of JAAN ( Jakarta Animal Aid Network ) this practice of Topeng Monyet has now been banned in Jakarta, the capital as well as in the provincial cities of Solo and Bandung. For instance, the city government of Jakarta launched raids back in 2013 to take and buy back all monkeys ( 90 USD for each confiscated ) used as street buskers and shelter them at a 2.5-acr preserve at Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo. This is a first step in the right direction. Topeng Monyet even if it is a cultural heritage has to be regulated and definitely not be left in the hands of gangs which think these monkeys are expendable commodity, not life.
Keeping monkeys as pets in Indonesia is not against the law and most Indonesians do know they make bad pets and are only cute for a few months – and above all it’s a 20-year commitment to say the least. Once they are no longer easy to keep and become unruly most are either abandoned or locked up in cages and never be looked upon as their dear babies ever again. As pets they are hard to sell ( hence they only sell at like 6 dollars each ) and it’s only people in the business of Topeng Monyet help keep the baby monkey trade afloat. Now that Topeng Monyet is banned I think this illegal trade won’t be able to sustain any longer.
But not indoor Topeng Monyet.
There are now individuals from Indonesia trying to parade their “ pet “ baby monkey on Youtube to make money. Some are even unscrupulous enough to spin sobbing tales about themselves all in the hope of bringing in unsuspecting viewers to ” aid ” them financially. One common ploy is to pretend that they have to sell their beloved pets as they are too poor to keep them any longer – but remember a monkey baby only costs about 6 dollars each in Indonesia and no one in the right frame of their mind there will buy it for more than that ( not at least a few thousand dollars in the States or other more affluent countries where the viewers come from ). After all wouldn’t it be easier that an interested local buyer get one themselves, cuter and younger and moreover not-yet-bonded with its keeper from the animal market ? If merely 6 dollars will keep the owner afloat financially I think they might as well sell the laptop or mobile that they have been using to upload their videos of their beloved “ pet “ they find hard to separate first. I’m pretty sure those gadgets will fetch them more money in ebay there.
The story just doesn’t add up if one examine logically but unfortunately there are still plenty of people fallen for it and give crooks there easy money.
If more people catch wind that they could make easy money by parading their baby monkeys on Youtube or other similar platforms I fear the market for baby macaques will ignite once again as there will be many copycats to follow the act. After all it’s a small investment ( 6 dollars for the baby and upkeep is pretty cheap at least for a baby ) that could potentially pull in money at least several hundred times over. And they are easy to get rid of once they expire in their cuteness department – remember those are indoor pets and whatever happen to them is up to its owner. No authority could have the resources nor manpower to prevent anything untoward to them. In the best scenario they may find a sanctuary where they could be released ….. but I can’t imagine what their fate is like in the hands of crooks who keep them solely for money.
Another new user name and another channel a brand new baby monkey will be paraded again every now and then for a few minutes in a video doing unnatural antics. An altogether new enterprise once again and the cycle will just continue.
There is only so much JAAN could do and it has taken them 5 years of hard work to finally bring some belated changes to the scene. They even have set up a sanctuary for these rehabilitated ex-Topeng-Monyet monkeys on an island.
But they are powerless against monkeys kept as pets.
Please don’t undo their hard work.
Don’t support any form of indoor Topeng Monyet from Indonesia.
Think twice before you part with your money.
Thank you 🙂
Rarely would one see a monkey baby with such expressive eyes, it’s almost like seeing a human infant in him. It fact his temper tantrum is markedly different from that of many other babies which almost always ends in just the universal open-mouth crying grimace and crawling and cowering around. He seems to use more of his eyes to show his anger, frustrations, sadness and ultimately fear. Humans are the only primates ( or indeed any animals ) to show the whites of their eyes to allow subtle emotions to be conveyed in our gaze and in Dopey I could almost see the dawning of this capability in his tantrum. Given time he and his breeds may eventually evolve just to do so, and with that the beginning of a more complex facial language. He is also one of the cleverest babies around, in a few weeks’ time there would be one episode which pits him against other babies in a crisis situation and he really shines in it. Only Knotty could match him.
There’s still crying but a lot less so than other babies. His eyes could speak !
This baby’s brain seems to be wired differently to other babies and it seems his delay in developmental milestones could also be related to this. Once his wiring was complete he has caught up with his peers in no time.
If Reddy manages to produce another baby this summer it would just be interesting to see how his sibling would compare with him. My guess is he or she will be more like an average monkey baby and Dopey is really an anomaly, truly one of a kind 🙂
The unconventional tantrum of Dopey
Remember the infamous Baby-Snatcher Aggy ? She’s the only female in Bossy’s troop to have been observed with “ kidnapping a baby’.
How true is this ? That the alleged victim actually survived for 2 weeks suggests to me that there’s more to it than meets the eyes. Someone must have been nursing the baby in the interim period multiple times ( my observation is that a baby would at least require 2 nursing sessions in one afternoon alone ) and that someone was none other than the biological mother herself as only a lactating female dedicated to this baby in question could sustain its life, not for a day but for nearly 2 weeks. So by all likelihood the “kidnap” did happen at least with the consent of the biological mother considering how protective rhesus macaque mothers are to their babies – even Gypsy the lowest ranking breeding female would come down to fight Cocky when the latter was lashing out at poor lil Knotty during a feeding session gone wrong. In the rhesus world hierarchy is no longer sacrosanct if it comes between a mother and her baby. Indeed we have seen how Reddy protested when the matriarch Bossy hit Dopey before. Looking back I think my footage actually caught the actions of an inept young female on two occasions trying to aunt an infant. She probably was under the influence of hormones as she had just gone into oestrus first time in her life.
It is all very interesting to see how the shrouds of mystery surrounding Aggy gradually peels away – from the alleged baby molester to one more of an overbearing young mother. The psychology involved must be fascinating to read but unfortunately we just do not know but I’m more than certain now that Aggy is never a baby-snatcher to start with. She just hadn’t learnt the etiquette to ask the permission to nurse, like Dopey’s aunt has demonstrated here.
See it done properly – but Dopey’s fussy so it didn’t help 🙂
She must have had a rather isolated upbringing with very few aunts to learn from. She did it the hard way but so far had escaped unscathed because of her inherited high rank in the troop. But she did learn with time and indeed she has never been seen since to try to forcefully aunt another baby. She is now finally getting used to be a mother herself 🙂
Everything should be taken with a grain of salt
Hurray ! Today’s an extra public holiday in HK – the so-called Buddha’s Birthday Holiday, arbitrarily taken on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar which happens to lie on the 3rd of May this year.
It also allows me to clear the backlog.
As per Buddha’s teaching and compassion for all living things the episodes to be aired tomorrow and the day after will be centred on helping Lubby and Dubby to reintegrate into bossy’s troop. As drifters I really feel sorry for them and for the good of Dubby he really ought to be growing up in a more socially stimulating environment along with his peers like Dopey, Knotty, Mickey etc., to learn all the basic manners and etiquettes of living in a troop. Knowledge of such will stand him in good stead when he has to deal with others on his own living independently in the not-too-distant future 🙁 as males are ousted by about four years of age regardless !
There is however an amazing similarity to our own problem in dealing with immigrants – indeed the people in the top echelon of the society hardly care about them as their privileges are rarely affected, to them life is usual as are their perks – you’ll see in these upcoming episodes that alphas like Bossy, Cocky etc., don’t really give a fuss that a new face is tagging along only those who are in direct conflict of interest with the newcomers will raise their objections – in this case, the lowest ranking female Gypsy is often hostile to Lubby and would often stalk to harass her. Higher ranking ones like Reddy, Lizzy etc., may appear to be indifferent but they do seem to have their own qualms and never want to interact with her. It’s only the babies that would welcome Lubby and her only son Dubby with open arms – there’s no conflict of interest there ( well at least Dubby won’t compete with Dopey for mum’s only tit ! ) and their inquisitive and friendly nature trumps everything ! Integration it seems to be the smoothest with kids, the same also holds true for our society.
On the surface my endeavour seemed to have worked but I really don’t know how long my impact would last – one thing for sure though I can’t really do it everyday as are most governments in the same position – the public coffer has only so much and resources are limited.
Macaques are social animals particularly females as they do stay together in their natal group usually for life.
Males however are ousted once they hit puberty by the dominant male to prevent inbreeding. As bachelors they usually linger in the wild until they reach adulthood which for rhesus it’s around 8 years of age. Before they could be re-accepted into another troop or better still lead their own troop individual bachelors may team up for various reasons, not being left alone is a good enough one for at least some of them, let alone the benefits of working in two or more for survival.
Stumpy was a drifter to start with – not by choice I would guess as his disability had probably made it impossible for him to follow his natal troop closely.
Furthermore he probably hadn’t had a chance to learn all the necessary social skills as he was orphaned so early in life which meant he was likely to appear awkward and socially unacceptable to his peers.
Nevertheless he still managed to go from strength to strength, first with the Loser’s group and now with the Ragtag troop of which the matriarch is likely to be related to him, a distant aunt I guess.
The story with Lubby and Dubby seems to be a bit of a mystery to me. Checking back some old footage from the time when I was only casually following macaques it appears I had at least met Lubby twice previously in 2015 on two separate occasions with a baby girl know as Yoda then ( as she looks like one ): once with an older female in the setting of a troop, probably Bossy’s, the other time on her own. So it did seem she was at least in some sort of stable relation with a troop.
Yoda’s actually a girl, my bad 🙁
On another occasion with Yoda, now a bit older…
Fast forward to autumn 2016, Lubby’s still around but the previous baby girl’s gone, probably deceased ( It seems a lot of the babies born in 2015 had perished, I think I have an explanation for this though ). She has appeared so far to be largely solitary and she too had given birth to a new baby, Dubby probably in October the same year. She nowadays is found hiding in the undergrowth by the road or up the slope in the trees, normally at some distance away from troops that tolerate her presence, namely Ragtag and Bossy’s on the condition that she doesn’t compete for any handouts.
She is scrawny and sparse with fur and I do feel she is always struggling to keep herself and her baby nourished and warm. Worst still as Dubby was born out of the major fruiting season he’s not going to be weaned any earlier, making things more difficult for Lubby 🙁
Foraging is difficult with a baby so Dubby has gotten used to be wondering off alone when mum is out looking for food and I’m really amazed at how robust this arrangement is as sometimes Lubby could be following me for a good half a mile on her own while Dubby is left to his own devices. Without fail she would often pop up again with Dubby on my way back often at some distance away from where she had first dropped off Dubby ! It looks as though they both have access to real-time GPS data !
As an outsider she is really nobody even Gypsy would leash out at her at will. She will rarely fight back and would try to lay low to stay on the good side of any challengers. The only exception happens when it concerns the safety of her baby for which she’d never flinch away from her maternal instinct to protect, even against bigger adversary !
She may be nodding off but she won’t fail her responsibility to her baby !!
Dubby seems to fare better as he could really mingle with other babies. I love seeing how he could play happily with babies of his own age. The concept of hierarchy hasn’t trumped over a baby’s playful nature yet 🙂
I always hope that Lubby could be reintegrated into Bossy’s troop no matter how their relation fell apart in the first place but it just doesn’t seem to work out. Lately Lubby is found hanging mostly around with the Ragtag troop – I’m not sure whether it’s the best for her and her baby, but one thing is for sure, Dubby will be missing his occasional playmates like Dopey, Knotty, Baty, etc., as he could now only play with the only infant in the Ragtag troop – the matriarch’s only son who is a good 4 months older than him.
I suppose the threshold for membership is higher in Bossy’s troop…..
There are about 40 to 50 individuals in this moderately-sized troop, including babies. They are led by a matriarch and a few ɑ males who wield absolute power as they live in an unfortunately despotic society, a bit like the Chinese and North Koreans.
The matriarch is Bossy , she is strong, big and bossy and a real daredevil. she is fair in disciplinary matters as far as macaques are concerned. She would readily lash out at anyone who try to come too near to her troop members, particularly the juveniles and the babies. At times she would intervene if a baby is being neglected by their mother. She is over 15 years old in my opinion ( in the wild macaques could live up to 20 to 25 years at most ) and has many offspring. Her youngest baby is Bossy Jr. whom for some reason has been mistaken by me to be a boy from the very beginning. As the youngest female in the matrilineal line she is the next most powerful female in the troop after Bossy 🙂
There are three ɑ males in this troop and they used to be more or less co-dominant but nowadays it seems the younger one of them has finally outdone the other two by his sheer strength and has become the de facto ɑ. He is buff, proud and really full of himself. He will readily leash out at anyone, including a baby who is in his way ! His name is Cocky for he sure looks like so 🙂
The next in line is an older male with a rather long face and a prominent and notched philtrum. He also has what looks to me like a right wrist drop and a middle finger on that hand that is permanently stuck out. He is kind to babies and I have yet to see him being nasty to them. He probably has mellowed in his older age and as such he will be known as Grandee from now on !
Below him is another male with similar facial features and abnormality of the right hand. His mouth is always slightly ajar and he always looks a bit spaced out to me. He’s probably related to Grandee and I suspect they were brothers and best pals since day one and had been fighting and working together to get to where they are now since they had left their mother’s troop to become independent many years ago. He will be known as Bleary.
We had seen him in my early videos before I got to know this troop. Yes, he’s the one with the radio collar, poorly fitted on his neck and he always looks uncomfortable with it. He’s very gentle and never bothers any babies. He always tags along with a younger petite female and they are probably lovers. For those who has been following my videos for a while he’s sometimes been referred to as Taggy and so be it for his name !
There are some drifter males who sometimes tag along with our gang but they almost always disappear when there isn’t much happening 🙂 or they just fail to sneak in for a quickie during the mating season !
The lesser mothers
There are about 20 odd adult females of reproductive age forming the backbone in Bossy’s troop. As they all rank below Bossy I’ll conveniently lump them together as the lesser female group. I don’t really know all of them and the ones I know better are all mothers except a few. They will be listed in descending order of their ranking within this group in the troop.
Aggy was once known as the Baby Snatcher for she was seen holding onto a baby against its wish on two occasions over a period of two weeks in late fall 2015. Thinking back she was just aunting quite aggressively then as she was probably about to go into heat. She’s the youngest mother ( I think she’s just over 5 year’s old ) in the troop with her first baby, Lilly born around late May 2016. She’s extremely fit and agile but she doesn’t seem to lead nor mingle too much and when she does so She seems to upset more by trying to grab and aunt their babies ! Her best pal is one elderly spinster, Granny.
Aunting : aka alloparenting is the provision of childcare by a member other than the biological mother in a group of animals.
Her aggressive aunting did lead to misunderstanding in the beginning. Unlike long-tailed macaques which kidnap to kill to maintain superiority of the dominant matriline rhesus have not been reported to do so.
Gravidity and Parity – just a nerdy way to denote obstetric history – Gravida, the number of times a female has been pregnant; Para, the number of times a birth has resulted from such pregnancies, viable or not.
Dorothy, as her name suggests ( Δωροθέα (Dōrothéa) meaning “God’s Gift” ) is blessed with something she is entitled to and she manages to keep it – her fertility. Indeed she was sterilised quite a few years back but somehow the vet had botched the operation and she has at least given birth to a baby boy, named Buddy between late June and July 2016. She resembles Bossy and is just as big boned. I guess she’s quite old and if she’s related to Bossy she would be at least 16 years old ( in most macaque society the younger female ranks higher than her older sibling ).
Lancy, a slender elegant female whom I know very little about even now and I only came to notice her first following the death of her baby girl in autumn last year ( 2016 ). Suffice to say she’s a high ranking female in this group of lesser females and if any female is going to become a mother again this year she’s well poised to it.
Her baby died probably from a fall 🙁
Lizzy, mother to little Mickey, the youngest baby from 2016 in the troop is probably related to Lancy as they both look quite alike. She is a very successful mother and had at least raised four older kids already !
Mickey was born exactly on the first day of September last year !
Haggy, so named as she always looks haggard to me, poor old girl. She is mother to another baby whom I know very little about and has always been referred to as the unnamed baby all the time. I suppose it’s fair to give him a name as he can’t remain anonymous all the time. I suppose Nony would do then ! If you examine her face she probably is an older sister of Lizzy hence Lancy too and in real life they do like to hang around together.
Reddy, she’s one of the most loving and caring mothers I’ve ever seen and she also takes to other babies readily. She is one of the younger mothers around and I think she’s between 7 to 8 year’s old. She had lost two babies previously back-to-back and now she seems to be taking extra care towards Dopey, her baby born last August ( 2016 ) and sometimes she seems to be even too doting on him and giving in to his needs too readily. Rest assured, Dopey is beginning to wean as we speak and we’ll see less of Reddy’s sole working nipple being stretched all the time by Dopey 🙂 Yes, it does need a rest too !
Dolly, she’s an older sister of Reddy I think as they resemble each other. She is a very experienced mother and has at least raised 3 kids already. She is mum to Baty, the very first baby born to this troop late last May. She is always rather fluffy but in her summer coat you’d see she actually is not as chubby as she appears to be !
Gypsy, the lowest ranking mother in the troop. She’s a bit like an untouchable as she not only gets bullied all the time she is not allowed near any goodies before others and by then there is normally none or only scraps left for her and other similarly lower ranking members of the troop. She is mum to Knotty who was born in late May last year and she has been trying her best in my opinion to care for her baby given her circumstances. But there is no denying to the fact that she had weaned little Knotty a bit too early though 🙁 In all fairness she does care about Knotty as I had seen her fighting Cocky for trying to bite lil Knotty before !
She did seem neglectful but she’s hungry herself as the registered old man who comes to feed them regularly had gone missing for a few weeks in a row !
These are some females whom I had introduced before in my videos, all are spinsters they are all low ranking but still rank higher than Gypsy ! Now you know her plight 🙁
Nellie is an old-timer with her cataract-induced iritis in her left eye but she’s not as ancient as she appears to be as I still see her flirt with Grandee during the mating season which falls between December to February every year. She however appears to be childless and I suspect she probably has problems conceiving. Like Gypsy she’s also low-ranking she just doesn’t get picked upon as often by others.
That’s how I first met old Nellie, deserted all by herself on the road….
Tammy, She is the only monkey who sidles up to me voluntarily and lets me pet her ! She’s also childless and she hangs around with a group of spinster who aunt and look after other babies in the troop.
Aunty, she’s a bit of a mystery as she seems to keep her distance from Bossy’s troop but does get involved a lot with babysitting. She is Knotty’s no. 1 aunt especially when he’s still very little. I really like her as she seems to try to answer to Knotty’s distress call if she happens to be nearby ! Another spinster she also appears to be childless.
That’s how I first came to meet her !
Granny, she recently came to my attention as the oldest female on Golden Hill Road as well as being a drifter almost all her adult life so I was told. Checking back some old footage she did appear to pop up from time to time with Bossy’s troop and she is especially associated with Aggy now that I make an effort to notice her though I see no resemblance between the two. Blinded in one eye and childless she is a bit slow but still agile enough to get out of any trouble. She ranks higher than Gypsy probably through her connection with Aggy !
The winner takes all and no descent is allowed. It’s unfair, it sometimes seems heartless and plain wrong but that’s the way it is and there is no point to get too upset about how their society is run !
For more information on the batch of babies from 2016 please follow this link.