The tall grass leads up to the green leafy vegetation of the tropical rainforest in Brazil. Tall trees provide shade graciously supplying multiple limbs for the animals to climb. Beneath the tall trees in the middle level are smaller trees and plants with broad leaves. They stand above the floor of the forest and are the home of the white-faced Saki monkey.
Black shadows leap from tree to tree moving quickly to collect berries, fresh green leaves and flowers of all colors. White faces peak around tree limbs carefully watching its surroundings. Brownish gray bodies jump and swing carrying tiny babies on their backs. Their narrow faces display a white strip between the eye and the mouth. It is the female Saki monkey traveling along with her baby. Her legs are much longer than her arms but she is able to safely protect and provide for her young adequately.
The males can be distinguished because they have a large area on their throat extending down to the chest that has no hair. These odd creatures weigh two pounds less than a five pound bag of sugar.
Reba the female is searching for insects to feed her young. Her eyes move slowly from branch to branch searching for any movement. She sees a hollow in the tree and her hands quickly grope for bats. She strips all the skin off and tears the meat into tiny sections to fill the little mouths holding onto her back. It is a normal routine for her because she is a very good provider for her young. Soon Rolo, the father will take charge of the baby giving Reba a much needed break. As the baby grows it will soon be able to climb and hold on to limbs as well. It takes about six months for a baby to be able to live independently.
“Oh my body is tired of nursing and carrying children. Rolo you take Tootie and let me take a much needed nap!” Reba asked.
“I have the other two but I will give Tootie a ride for a while. Mookie and Dotty are helping look for food. They have become quite good in the past few months. It won’t be long until I can stop watching their every move.” Rolo sighed.
At two months of age the male monkeys begin to turn from brown to black with white faces. All females stay brown. The older children take over and watch over the younger ones giving the parent’s time to breed once more. Reba’s nipples located close to her arm pits needed a break as well. Her belly that the infants had clung too from birth was beginning to sag just a bit. Exercise was the cure all.
“Goodness I hope I will live longer than my mother. She died when she was about fifteen. I need to stay in shape so I can grow old gracefully.” She mused.
“Watch how Mookie and Dotty can fly through these trees. I guess that is why the natives all call us the flying monkeys. They sure can get a move on. I think they are faster than I am; of course I have to go slower because of Tootie. Maybe my speed will increase once he is on his own at least that is the plan.” Rolo chirped.
Suddenly Reba gasped. “It’s the hunters again. Everyone move up higher and watch out for the spears.”
She began to signal by shaking her body, stamping her feet. Her hair puffed out and she arched her back to show her displeasure about the crisis. Loud growls could be heard for miles. The tree tops moved frantically as all the flying monkeys scampered for safety. As the natives grew closer the furry animals ran uprightly to the tops of the trees to hide among the green leaves. They were all aware that the hunters were looking for food. Monkey meat was high on their list of valuables.
“Be careful!” Rolo called. “If they don’t spear you they will catch you and sell you to someone for a pet. Once you are caught you will no longer be able to fly through the trees.”
One of the natives carried a sack on his back. Within a few minutes he filled the sack with various kinds of monkeys. He was happy to return home with lots of meat for his family to eat. Fortunately no monkeys were captured and taken to be sold for pets.
Once the hunters walked out of the rainforest area, the trees became quiet again. The aggressive sounds of the frightened monkeys hushed.
The snakes continued to slither along the floor of the rainforest. The parrots heads rotated in every direction and the sound of the tree frogs could be heard once more.
As night began to fall the monkeys prepared for rest high in the tops of the trees. Tootie’s eyes closed and his tiny body cuddled in the arms of his mother. Another day in the rainforest had passed for the tree living Saki monkeys.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Question for the reader! How much does the average Saki monkey weigh?