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Montevideo, Montevideo, Uruguay
August 25, 2010
January 17, 2006
Monkey Jungle is one of the oldest zoological parks in the US, established in 1933 to study primates roaming free in a native environment. Its founder, researcher Joseph DuMond released six Java Crab-Eating Macaques into the “wild” of this densely lush 30 acre tropical reserve, and since then that troop has grown into the '80s. Today, Monkey Jungle is home to approximately 400 primates. It is one of the few parks in the country that focus solely on raising and studying primates. The premise of this facility is very unique - basically, you, the visitor, walk through a large enclosed “cage”, while the monkeys are free to roam around outside and above the cage, peering back at you inside the cage. Thus their motto is “Monkey Jungle: Where the humans are caged and the monkeys run wild.” Some sections of the cage are cleverly left open with other land barriers in place, such as a swimming pond for the Macaques, which prevent the monkeys from coming over to your side and stealing your camera or small child. You can also purchase food and feed the monkeys via these small metal bowls hanging from the top of the cage by a chain. But be aware, however, that once you share food with the monkeys they also want to share with you the only other thing they have – their fecal matter. So come prepared with a hat and/or light covering. This facility is great in that it truly does allow for several species of Asian and South American monkeys to form their own “rain forest” the same way they would in nature. There’s a dominant male Red Howler Monkey and even a secondary AND tertiary dominant male. However, what did disturb me were the cages within the “human cage” where other monkeys resided, like African monkeys such as the Diana Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, Mandrills and the South American Brown-Headed Spider Monkey. They did not have their own rainforest environment. They lived in a very large cage with a long tree. The only solice for their demise was a long feeding tube that extended into the cage that you could drop food into which they could eat. However in most cases they had to be coaxed to even retrieve it. They all just looked sad. Also, the one gorilla and one orangutan had no companions. At least the Orangutan and the Gorilla each had their own section of the rain forest as an individual habitat and weren’t locked up in a wire cage. Because of this setback I have mixed feelings about Monkey Jungle. I think they could easily improve the facility by sectioning off portions of the reserve for the other monkeys, so it is truly a human cage, as their slogan says. The park is located off the Florida Turnpike on SW 216 St. Their hours are 9:30am to 5pm everyday. You can see the whole park in about 4 hours' time or less.
From journal South Florida