I am disappointed by monkeys.

We travel to Longleat Safari Park.

Longleat is fairly unique amongst major tourist attractions in the UK, in that it is not rubbish. I have been there once before, and whilst it is expensive – and no Dollywood – it clearly has a heart and offers value for money.

I think this is probably something to do with it not being owned by an Evil Corporation. As most people know, Longleat belongs to the Marquis of Bath, a man who, let’s face it, commands a certain amount of respect amongst the English heterosexual male fraternity. He provides good recreation facilities and quality animal contact opportunities.

The only thing that spoilt my previous visit was that the monkeys had herpes. I was disappointed by this, as to me a safari park is defined by the monkey experience, and not being able to drive in to the monkey enclosure (due to the herpes) had been a blow.

We trundle up the long drive towards the pay kiosks.

‘Due to unforeseen circumstances,’ reads a sign, ‘the monkey enclosure will be closed until further notice.’

I do not believe it!!! There are no monkeys once more!!! I wind down my window as the ticket lady looks down on me.

“Are there no monkeys today?” I demand.

Her eyes refuse to meet mine. “No. I’m afraid the monkey enclosure is closed,” she says. “Until further notice,” she adds helpfully.

“The monkey enclosure was closed last time,” I complain. “What is the problem with them?”

The lady shifts her stare once more. “They have… a virus,” she replies evasively.

I fix her with a look. “Is it the herpes again?”

She confirms that the monkeys have herpes once more. It is typical. “I can’t believe your monkeys keep reinfecting themselves,” I reply.

“It is not them; it is the humans. They get it from the humans. Then they give it back to us. The monkeys themselves are not that affected.”

“Oh,” I say, taking my change from her before scrubbing at my hand with a baby wipe.

We drive on into the attraction. We have a fine, monkeyless day.

18 Comments

  1. I was once involved with a similar herpes-related monkey death issue. At another safari park, the one in the West Midlands. They had the virus, and they had to shoot them all. They asked me in a professional capacity what they should do with all the poor little monkey bodies. Could they, they wondered, just dig a big hole and put them in there? Not ideally, said I. Bad for the groundwater, you see.

    They did it anyway, and I didn’t do anything to stop them.

  2. You are disappointed by monkeys? Are you sure you have that the right way around?

    How exactly do humans go about giving a monkey herpes, anyway? What the hell are those zoological types up to in there? The Monkey House is obviously nothing but a harem of hairy little hookers to those perverts. If that’s what they’re into, they should go to a Greek brothel like everyone else…

  3. Ivan you HAD to ask, didn’t you? This is not my morning. The evil forces of the universe snuck up on me when I was only half awake and mumbled ChumbaWumba in my ear and now, to that sound track, I have visions of khaki-clad ranger people making sweet, sweet monkey love to the capuchins (the tailed variety, not the Friar Minor types).

  4. Ooh, I used to go to Longleat a lot as a kid and recently some friends were telling me about the whole monkeys/herpes thing. I thought they were kidding around to begin with, but I guess now! Wish I could get the human-to-monkey transmission issue out of my head now :/ Anyway, how can they expect guests to be a happy with a Longleat trip that doesn’t involve the obligatory drive through the monkey enclosure while the monkeys ruin your windscreen wipers?!

  5. I've Been Mugged

    They ought to stuff the Monkeys rather than bury them.

    Oh, hang on..

  6. According to this BBC article:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/7967012.stm

    The Head Warden of Longleat is one Keith Harris.

    Cuddles the Monkey?

    Nuff said

  7. You regularly drive from Norfolk to Wiltshire for a day out? Gosh.

    How the other half lives. I think I’m doing well if I drive 21.5 miles (yes, I did just check) to Banham Zoo.

  8. This entire monkey outing needs to be depicted as a cartoon, like the potato incident(s).

    The cartoon was about seven million kinds of delightful! (Yes, I used a very scientific method to calculate that, if you must know).

  9. Fartoogrumpy: surely it would have been better to impale them on spikes and display them in public, to discourage the rest? Or is that too simple a solution?

    The problem with doing monkeys as a film is that I don’t have a ticket kiosk background. They would have to be inside an implausible mansion. And that would be just – um – implausible.

  10. It’s a bit harsh blaming the disappointment on the monkeys isn’t it? I’m sure they didn’t deliberately catch herpes with the aim of keeping out Norfolk folk.

    Or was the ticket lady cercopithecoid?

  11. That is a heck of a drive for a day out, only to end in disappointment. I’m afraid here in Wiltshire some of the locals do tend to infect all manner of livestock. The nights can be long and cold in the country.

  12. I blame society, Blazing – specifically the modern trend towards small families. In the Good Old Days, everyone had at least one sister…

  13. I used to think it was the other way around, that monkeys infected hu…anyway, doesn’t matter, I don’t like monkeys. There, I said it. I don’t like monkeys. I live in monkey-land. One used to run wild around here, a very rude one. Hassan, the Russian people’s security guard, hated it too.

  14. I do hope she wasn’t casting aspersions on Ben and Kate.

  15. The thing is with herpes, you just can’t shake it off. No matter how much shaking you give it, it just won’t come off.

  16. Brenning, I am not a doctor of any kind, but I do think that shaking it about too much is just the sort of thing that gives one herpes.

  17. I had a genius idea at the time of how to make a bad situation better. The herpes doesn’t affect the poor monkey much: just like a coldy, fluey thing. But if a human catches it, they can get encephalitis. And die.

    So, the monkeys have to die. No fault of their own, but they just have to. The monkeys are already in an electic-fenced enclosure. One bite, or even one spit, could kill.

    What say we let some testosterone-fuelled survivalist type, who probably wears camouflage to the supermarket and calls his biceps his ‘guns’, loose in the enclosure with a spear? And film it for pay-per-view? Monkeys have to die anyway; what could be more entertaining than watching the Nazi gut-boy screaming for his mum as he tries to fend off wave after wave of death-wielding, muscular, sharp-toothed little critters with a Bowie knife?

    The safari park said it was a bad idea. They shot them with a rifle. I still say it’s an opportunity missed. And I’m allowed to say that now, because the injunction’s timed out.

  18. Some years ago I went to Knowsley Safari Park. During the hilarious drive through the monkey enclosure, in addition to removing a screen washer nozzle, one of the monkeys “crimped one off” on the top edge of the back window. In the name of humour and experiment, I decided to leave it there and await the no-doubt numerous enquiries from my neighbours – I lived on an estate with a communal car park. No such enquiry was forthcoming, leaving me to believe the locals here in Crewe are not phased by the prospect of perhaps a 10 foot high dog crapping on their cars.

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