Acceptance

 Bobbi tells the story about his macaque baby...

 My story begins 4 years ago with a 10 day old pig-tail (male) Macaque we call Mr.T. I, like so many others, have always wanted a primate.  Not knowing squat about them.  I bought this monkey.  I was in my mid 40's, had raised 4 children, and had this empty-nest syndrome.  Retired from work due to spinal arthritis, giving 25 years to nursing, I felt empty.  This little baby boy was going to fill that void.  Did he ever.

The first 2 years with Mr.T was extremely fulfilling.  He ate everything we did, was allowed free range of the house, managed to chew up most of the furniture, wore diapers and the cutest little outfits I could buy.  My boy!  I was so proud of him!  Then, then began to change.  He would scream at me when I would attempt to correct him, tear off his diapers and run so I could not put another on, becoming more defiant with every passing day.  But, that's my boy!!  So, we bought his first cage and each time he removed his diaper, in the cage he went.  I took him out of the cage every morning to play (thank goodness he let me leash him) but, without the diaper, being out was only for short periods at a time.  My husband (whom I will refer to as "Dad) was only a part-timer in our lives, since work took him away for weeks on end, but Mr.T would hear him come home and was so excited he would squeal with delight.  Still, no diaper.  But dad was good about spending time with our boy.  His love for Mr.T. grew with each passing day.  The changes were becoming more noticeable.  The it happened.............................................

Dad came home on a Thursday night and we decided to go away for the week-end.  Without Mr.T.  My eldest son was enlisted to baby-sit. Son was not to fond of Mr.T., but I could not let a stranger take care of my baby.  We arrived back home Sunday early evening.  All did not go well at home while we were gone.  I went directly to the cage to give my baby a hug, and was greeted by an angry monkey!  He would not come to me, so I reached in to get him and was promptly bit in the hand.  I screamed for my husband to help me.  He pulled Mr.T. off me and I ran to get the first aid kit, blinded by tears.  My pain was not so much in my hand, but in my heart.  Mr. precious baby had attacked, turned on me.  That first bite broke 2 fingers and opened the entire top of my hand. From that time on, things between him and I only got worse.  Now I feared him, and he knew it.  I needed help, now!

A week went by.  Now all I could do was feed him in the cage.   As I was relating my sob story to a friend, she informed me she knew of someone that might be able to help.  Hence, my first meeting with Mrs. L., and my introduction to a wonderful Primate Organization.

Over the next 5 days, I talked with Mrs. L. over the phone every day.  She invited us to her home, so I packed up the monk and drove the 300 miles to her home.  She welcomed us with open arms, and Mr. T. took to her like a duck to water.  The next day the monkey vet did a complete physical and blood work.  All was well there.  Now, the teaching begins.  The next few days were filled with educating me about my monkey, and behavior modification for us both. Sad as it was, Mr. T. had already drawn the battle lines, and his mind was not to be changed.

We returned home.  I made 3 more attempts to get him out of the cage, all resulting in deep, bloody wounds.  My fear of him grew.  I decided maybe he would do better with other monkeys.  I talked with Mrs. L. about it, but she made it clear the decision would be mine.  I decided to send him to a breeder, one who had a good reputation.  The arrangements were made.

During the intern of Mr. T's departure, I began to feel a great loss.  Was I doing the right thing?  My husbands heart was broke, but he feared more injuries.  I went out and bought a camcorder and filmed Mr. T. for days on end, so I could still see him after he was gone.  The day came to leave for Mrs. L's house.  I was still battling within, was this the best thing for him?

At 3 a.m. the next day we drove to the airport.  I couldn't do it, Mrs. L had to put him on the plane.  Did I do the right thing?  I couldn't stay, so I drove the 300 miles home.  I don't remember the drive.  I walked into the house, dropped to the floor and cried from the bottom of my heart, totally engulfed in deep sorrow.  The loss was more that I could bare.  For 6 days I locked myself behind closed doors, watching my films over and over, speaking to no one except my husband when he would call.  A week after I sent him away, I called the breeder.  I couldn't talk, but they assured me he was O.K.  I started to call them 2 and 3 times a day, crying uncontrollably.  They were patient with me, assuring me he was O.K.  3 weeks went by, it got no better.  I lost 20 pounds, had deep black circles under my eyes.  Coffee, cigarettes, and tears.  That was my life now.  That deep, deep pain would not ease.  Then, the last phone call to the breeder. Mr. T. could not adjust, he would have to be moved.  I couldn't take it.   He had to come home.  No matter what it took, Mt. T. was coming home.   Mrs. L. made arrangements to fly him home.  My husband was happy, and informed me that he and my sons were ready to commit me to a hospital.

Mr. T. arrived at Mrs. L house Wednesday, mid-day.  I arrived Thursday morning.  She answered the door with Mr. T. in her arms.  I almost collapsed when I saw him.  His tail had been chewed up, he had lost 6 pounds, and his head was down.  My proud boy, what have I done to you?  He was sick.  At that moment I made a promise to God and Mr. T. never would he leave again, nothing on this earth would ever hurt him again!!

I left him with Mrs. L for 10 days so Dr. could heal his wounds, and Mrs. L could heal his heart.  The breeder told me later Mr. T. was human imprinted, a bond not to be broken.

Today he is a happy, healthy 35 pound monkey.  We abide by his rules, he is the alpha.  He has an indoor/outdoor habitat and mom is mom.  I feed him, clean him, fix his owies, groom and love him between bars.  We are both happy.  Two more primates have joined our family, and Mr. T is a loving, kind big brother.

The outcome of this is, I now have a goal in life.  I want to help educate humans before and after they adopt a primate.  Raising Primates is so complex, not to mention cost of up-keep.  You can't put them in the foreground as you could a dog or cat.  Is is a lifetime commitment, and a lifetime of joy and awe.

I thank the Lord everyday for allowing me the privilege of being the caregiver to these Primates.

Bobbi Shackleford

 

Note from Mrs. L:  Even though I try to educate and train Primate people like Bobbi's story above, It's sad to admit, it is not the monkey, it's the owner, in deep fear of this primate.  It doesn't matter if you train them the techniques, if the primate owner is deeply afraid and does not want to take control or can't take control, situations like this above does not benefit the monkey.  I have so much love for Bobbi in sharing this deep story with you all, sending him away was not the answer, but she had to make that decision on her own.  She realized Love between bars and giving him forever love was more important for his well-being.  Mr. T. has a new mom, willing to give him the best she knows how by providing enrichment and the best habitat to be able to handle him.  Mr. T. loves his mommy and he gives her what she needs.  To many times I see the bond broken and the monkeys suffer from home to home.   I too have also found a new friend, my Mr.T.  I love him deeply as he loves me, we have a great bond between the two of us and always will.  I am his second mom and I give him love he dears for when I visit.  I am his and he is mine.  He turns into this big bundle of infancy when he sees me, I cry as he cries when I hold this huge 35 pound beautiful baby.   I will always be there for him and he lets me give him what he needs, for that the bond will never die.  For Mr. T. this is his life, for me and Bobbi, we do what is needed and will forever!

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