Holland: One Day @ Apenheul Primate Park

Before the deadline for the first draft of our thesis (which is actually the only draft we need to hand in), me and a group of friends decided to take a day off from the thesis craziness to go to a primate park. So a few days ago we went to the Apenheul Primate Park. This is a zoo located in Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands. This zoo has been open since 1971 and displays now more than 30 different species of primates

It is basically the same as a zoo, except for the part where it is only focused in one single order – primates. And also except for the part where some animals are actually free and allowed to wander around, even in the middle of the public. To be honest, this makes for a much better experience. This park is a big as many city capital zoos, so you can all imagine how many specifies of primates are indeed represented in this park and so much space it has. This was absolutely an amazing experience, especially because I managed to be very close to some of the primates. Unfortunately, none climbed in to my shoulder as they often do. It was amazing to observe orang-utans, bonobos and gorillas and realise how much similar they are to us, or us to them. It couldn’t have been a better physical example of the resemblances shared by two species in the same evolutionary branch.

The park is well-organised and they paid attention to some very important details. For instance, they provide us with monkey proof bags for our belongings – which aren’t more than just normal bags with a sort of lock. Even though some animals are totally free to wander around, there are always people in those places to make sure that they are safe as the public too. The park has all different species of primates, even some species that aren’t present in the wild anymore and whose only examples in Europe are in this specific park. The only thing I found disappointing about this park was the fact that they had no chimps. They are really one of my favourite animals (along with the rest of primates) and I would have loved to have seen some of them.

Let me tell you now that you’re gonna get spammed by dozens of pictures of primates, which are one of the most adorable orders in the world. The first few pictures show the park, while the remaining ones are of the primates. These pictures were edited using the programme “pixelmator“.

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These are some of the habitats of the primates. I can imagine how much different they are from the actual habitats, but then I guess is better than anything. There is plenty of room for them to wander around, especially for those of them who have more freedom than others. The park itself provides a wonderful walk through the wild, considering that a good percentage of it is not the zoo, so people can walk freely there.

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These are black-capped squirrel monkey and they are one of the most adorable creatures in the world. This is the wrong thing to say but I really wanted to take one home with me. These South American squirrel monkeys are found in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru. They are one of the few species that are actually completely free in the zoo. It’s easy for you guys to get one of them to jump into your shoulder. You just need to kneel close to one of them and they’ll generally jump into your shoulders. But we gotta be really careful because they are sneaky and little thieves.

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From top to bottom: crowned sifaka, red ruffed lemur and ring-tailed lemur. In a way (because taxonomic classifications are really hard to understand if we’re not in this subject) they all belong to the family of Lemuridae. There is a part of their enclosure which is totally open, so they can also wander around even in the middle of the public. However, I only saw one red ruffed lemur do it – and he actually scared a few kids. And at this point we witnessed a group of ring-tailed lemur chasing a peafowl. It was quite funny to be honest.

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And here we have the zoo’s group of bonobos. Along with the common chimpanzee, they are one of our two closest relatives. It was absolutely amazing admiring them and realising how much alike our species are. Unfortunately, they are and endangered species only found in a 500,000 km2 area of the Congo Basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa. The little ones was also one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. The first photo of the bonobos is actually one of my favourites: I’m pretty sure that could have been a photo of one of our common ancestors with the rest of the great apes.

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Moving to another species within the family of great apes, I present you guys the group of Bornean orang-utans. As a curiosity, they actually share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans. I wasn’t able to take many good photos of them because of the glass, of the fact that one of the little guys couldn’t stop still for a second and also because there was a lot of people inside that building.

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From top to bottom: Javan lutung, western lowland gorilla and ion-tailed macaque. I believe that the best time to see the gorillas is when they are doing one of their shows with them. Apparently, you have the chance to throw apples at them, for feeding let’s be clear. I’m to assume that they have a large enclosure, so it is a bit difficult to see them because they will never always be in the same part of the enclosure as us.

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And now moving to the biggest spam you’ll see in this next: Barbary macaques. They are a species of macaque unique for its distribution outside Asia and for its vestigial tail. They are found in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco and El-Kouf National Park in Libya along with a small population of unknown origin in Gibraltar. They provided me with the best experience in the whole day. Because you may ask… Well because the tiny one (that you can see in images 4 to 8) was really close to have jumped. And I so wish he had done it. In the 8th photo you guys can actually see how close he was to my camera. By all these photos you can see how much in love I was with the little one. He is adorable adorable adorable.

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From top to bottom: unknown (I’m sorry but I couldn’t really identify them; I should have taken note of their species name), emperor tamarin, Goeldi’s marmoset and Gray langurs. Emperor tamarins are absolutely cute with their white moustache. At the end of the day, this was an amazing experience and I am so glad I decided to go.

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