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355. Monkey - Parrot

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(Nov. 19, 2010) -- The phrase "I've got a monkey on my back" is being taken literally among animals in captivity.

Recently in San Agustin, Colombia, a lazy monkey started doing the animal kingdom's version of shacking up with a male and female parrot at a countryside hotel.

The owners of the hotel says the squirrel monkey eats and plays with his bird-brained roommates.
Alejandro Jaramillo, Solent News / Rex / Rex USA 
 
This lazy monkey hitches a ride to the top of a tree -- by sitting on the back of a parrot. The squirrel monkey, which lives with a male and female parrot at a hotel in Colombia, was photographed by Alejandro Jaramillo after it hopped onto the macaw. These kinds of bizarre inter-species friendship aren't unheard of, but they aren't common.
On the other hand, the monkey doesn't exactly go bananas about exerting himself when he doesn't have to, so he often hitches a ride to the tree tops by sitting on the back of one of the birds.

The hotel owners, who own the birds, tolerate the monkey most of the time, but, according to photographer Alejandro Jaramillo, they do have to occasionally throw water at him to get him off the birds.

Lazy monkeys haven't quite become an epidemic -- yet! -- but they are more common than you might think.

For instance, at the Fukuchiyama City Zoo in Kyoto, Japan, a baby monkey named Miwa has been palling around with a young boar named Uribo since they both lost their moms in June.
Baby monkey rides a boar
Kazuhiro Nogi, AFP / Getty Images
A baby monkey named Miwa rides a young boar named Uribo in Fukuchiyama City Zoo in Kyoto, Japan, on Oct. 19. Both have been sheltered by the zoo since June after losing their mothers.

But is this kind of rainbow connection, peace-love, we-are-all-one attitude common in nature?

Well, sort of, and not really.

Dr. Jason Chatfield, the staff veterinarian and general curator of Jungle Island, a Miami-based theme park that hosts a variety of wild animals, says this sort of inter-species friendship is unusual in the wild.

"Honestly, the law of the jungle is, only the strong survive, and primates tend to travel in packs," Chatfield said. "If one mother dies, the other mother will adopt the dead mother's child."

Chatfield says there might some friendships between animals that have formed in the wild, but he's never heard of them.

"Usually, these partnerships only happen in captivity," he said. "And it has to happen when the animals are young and raised together so that they can overcome their natural instinct to kill. This wouldn't happen if they were adults."

Since these inter-species friendships only form in captivity, they might seem "unnatural," but Chatfield won't speculate on whether they are right or wrong.

"I can't say whether they are a positive or negative aspect of being in captivity, but I will say this: Animals do better with a friend even if it isn't from the same species."


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