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Hugging a Baboon



No don’t be mistaken. He is hugging you. Not you are hugging him. And indeed it’s a HE or a SHE, who hugs you… Well, the truth is that it is mutual. When one of them hugs you, you know, you feel, and that is because he or she wants your touch, your warmth, your closeness. They need you, and they are sincere.


It had been a touching experience, volunteering at Riverside.

I've chosen that place for what it really is. A wild life rehabilitation center.

All animals arriving there are refugees of conflicts between human and nature. They might have lost their mothers because the mother was hunted or run over by a car. They might have been used for medical experiments. They might have been captured to be handled as pets and their owners gave up on them when they grew older and bigger. This way or another they were bound to dead. But they, as well, were lucky enough to be rescued and arrived at Riverside.


And I was lucky to work with them.


Cleaning their cages, preparing their food, feeding, walking, washing, playing and never the less, hugging them.


Days start with bottle feeding the younger babies. They would jump in your arms and grab the bottles and suck the milk swiftly. Mathyou, the older and stronger baboon baby, would empty his bottle first and steal Hallen's one, just because if he'd tried Queeny's she'd scream so badly that even he'd give up on the idea. The other find shelter on our hands.

Then cleaning. That can be categories as all the range between funny, sportive, filthy and frustrating.  Well, it ends quickly. Food prep is more of a social event, and quite a few of us would do it together. We used to take Jade with us. One tinny and not growing Vervet monkey.  She is pretty, quick, clever, picky, sensitive and spoiled. She is like a stand up comedy while preparing food. Jumping from one crater to another, tasting what's in, staffing her mouth up and screaming every here and there to protest.

Feeding feels a big fest. You need to use all your skills to mange the animals' excitement and "stay a live". But that's when they really are themselves: animals on there way back to the wild.


At noon time, when sun at its best, its fun to take the monkeys to the swimming pool. Mathyou jumps into the water straight on. Queeny screams the hell out when Mathyou teases her, Corolla climes the trees. Davie chases Zaffy imitating Corolla.  Jade is alone somewhere on the grass hunting insects.

And Hallen comes for a hug.


Did you ever have the chance to hug a baboon?


They are such energetic, funny, happy, joyful, (filthy shitty dirty) cute animals! My face lights up with a big big smile each time I think about them, And do I miss their hugs.



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