Posted by: travelrat | August 29, 2007

Monkey Business


Monkeyworld, in Dorset, was founded about twenty years ago, as a sanctuary for primates rescued from situations in which they were exploited or abused. It has something in common with Formula One racing. They’re both better appreciated on television!

You’ve probably seen the ‘Monkey Business’ TV series, filmed at Monkeyworld and endlessly repeated on the ‘Animal Planet’ channel, or the new ‘Monkey Life’ series on Channel 5. The actual visit can be rather disappointing, for the monkeys can only be viewed through wire mesh or glass. Not very good for photography. A notice by the entrance forbids the use of any still or moving images for commercial purposes; I don’t think any publishable shots could be taken from area to which the public normally have access, anyway.

But, that’s the way of Monkeyworld. The needs of the rescued primates have absolute priority … those of the visitor come way down the scale.

I thought, at first, the idea was just to provide as natural a habitat as possible for rescued monkeys, and most of them were neutered. But, that isn’t the case. Normally, they receive contraception, but this is withheld if the animals are taking part in an Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

Incidentally, the notice at the entrance said nothing about audio … I got recordings of several of the monkeys howling and hooting … and only one was really spoilt by the sounds of the primates who had paid ten quid a throw to get in!

Monkeyworld isn’t the only place you can see monkeys, but the bare concrete-floored cage at the zoo is mainly a thing of the past. At Longleat, not far way, which we visited a few days later, a part of its ‘Safari Park’ is the ‘Monkey Jungle’, which is a huge enclosure in which monkeys and apes are kept, again, in as natural a surrounding as possible.

We could get really close to the monkeys here, for you are allowed to drive your car right into the enclosure. But, you must keep all your doors and windows tightly shut, and the owners will accept no responsibility for damage to your car, which the monkeys will, quite frequently, climb upon.

After earlier visits, my grandson asked me which of the two I preferred, and I had to think. ‘Monkeyworld, probably!’ I said. ‘I didn’t have to pay for repairs to my car afterwards!’


  1. I laughed at your comment that visiting Monkeyworld is akin to Formula One racing – both are better viewed on TV. It’s so true! I visited Monkeyworld a few years ago when staying with my cousin in England and there is something unsettling about them jumping on your car. It reminded me of that scene in ‘The Omen’ where the monkeys attack the car Damien is travelling in.
    Very unnerving!

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