and Forest. Individually, two good words.
them together and the result is joyous. I'll type
Monkey Forest! A Monkey Forest in the UK? Really?
What a wonderful idea.
It doesn't matter that it's unlikely that the
creatures will be wearing top hats and twirling
It's the possibilities conjured by those two
Maybe, just maybe, they'll be smoking cigars
and driving pick-up trucks? They must be escaping
at the weekend to the local nightclubs. At the
very least they'll be hanging around chatting.
I had to visit. I could not be disappointed.
It is a high concept. If I sighted any monkeys
it would be an added bonus. I'd pay just to be
in close proximity to the idea of a Monkey Forest
(same with Dolphin Danger Darts, by the way).
What make the whole thing even more delicious
is the location.
Of all the places in all the world that shouldn't
have a forest full of monkeys, surely it's Trentham
near the not-so-exotic Stoke on Trent in the UK.
But Trentham Gardens is where, in July 2005,
a French couple opened the Monkey Forest conservation
project. Sixty acres of woodland populated by
140 free roaming Barbary Macaques monkeys.
Entrance is £5 for adults, £4 for
children and it's well worth it.
You're allowed into the monkey woods through
Jurassic Park style gates. And then there they
are. An alien race. Monkeys.
Monkeys sitting around. Monkeys hanging from
trees. Monkeys posing for pictures. Monkeys grooming
each other. Young monkeys jumping around. Elderly
monkeys taking it easy. This is their home and
they can wander where they will.
There are no imposing wire fences to separate
the humans from the monkeys. The humans tend to
follow the paths. Humans are not allowed to touch
the monkeys. It's not unknown for the monkeys
to touch the humans. At 2.15pm at the top of the
hill, the monkeys got fed.
A human in a yellow jacket gave a talk about
the monkeys sitting around her. Barbary Macaques
live in groups and each group has a social hierarchy.
There are signs explaining their behaviour, too.
They have Play Faces, apparently. Adult male monkeys
can use babies as a social mediator.
It's an enjoyable, interesting day out. The gift
shop and cafe are not great - but that's reassuring.
It's all about the monkeys at Monkey Forest.
Just don't go getting any ideas. Yes, a Barbary
Macaque would fit inside your overcoat. That could
be why the sign near the exit reminds you:
'Monkeys are not suitable as pets'.
Trentham Monkey Forest
Trentham Estate– Southern entrance
Tel: + 01782 659 845 - Fax: + 01782 644 699
www.monkey-forest.com - firstname.lastname@example.org
CR for Extrageographic