It was while on a romantic week away down in Dorset, on a winding lost route to Weymouth that we stumbled upon one of my now favourite places in the world.
We had made it to Dorchester, only to find it looked a bit boring, so set out on a route to find somewhere more exciting.
Suddenly, a road sign with a monkey popped up, so I knew exactly where we were supposed to be going.
We ended up at Monkey World, and as a keen talker to the animals, I was jumping with joy to find it was still open for another few hours when we arrived at 3pm.
Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre assists governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild, with the animals in the centre those that have suffered abuse or neglect and been rehabilitated into natural family groups.
I already knew the visit was going to be emotional, but I didn’t think I’d be living having been handed celery by a baby orangutan or flirted with by a capuchin.
The centre is set over 65 acres, with five different species of gibbon, the largest group of chimpanzees living outside Africa, three groups of Orangutans and 11 species of monkeys and prosimians such as capuchins, marmosets, tamarins, lemurs, macaques and even woolly monkeys.
As we made our way around we stumbled upon the first group of chimpanzees, who were excitedly throwing poo at each other while one was casually sat with the newspaper in the corner.
We had talks from keepers about monkeys used in labs, coming face to face with those who had lived their lives in tiny cages.
I witnessed chimps pretend to roll cigarettes, because it is so engrained in their behaviour, as well as baby orangutans reaching out their arms to me and capuchin monkeys flirting in their own little signals with my boyfriend.
We met the older members of the ape world, who were in their own retirement groups, while baby monkeys set out on a brighter life than when they had been bundled into sacks and transported across continents to be someone’s pet.
Entry to Monkey World is a mere £12 for adults, a steal for the educational value of seeing these beautiful animals.
If you want to save these creatures, and teach your children the kindness the world needs, then please pay a visit to Monkey World.
- Nr Wareham, Dorset, BH20 6HH
- Call 01929 462537
- Visit www.monkeyworld.org