Monkey Love at First Sight
I was never a believer in love at first sight. Yet I witnessed it when monkey, Toutie, first laid eyes her soulful eyes on Mark.
Toutie is a 9-year-old white female faced Capuchin Monkey who lives at Urraca Private Island.
Mark and I arrived at Urraca Private Island in Bocas del Toro, Panama for our honeymoon in December of 2016. One of the biggest reasons we chose Urraca was the monkeys. We had read reviews and were super excited about the opportunity to truly interact and bond with the rescued monkeys who live at the tropical private island resort. Urraca is actually called Monkey Island by the locals due to its primate residents.
From the moment Mark approached the Capuchin cage, Toutie immediately became excited. For the duration of our stay, she always wanted his FULL attention. We were amused by the way she would shun me and turn her back so she was focusing 100% of her attention on Mark, and he on her. He would talk to her and hold her hands and she would stare into his eyes with complete love and adoration.
Finally, towards the end of our stay, Francine asked if Mark wanted to go inside the Capuchin enclosure and “meet” Toutie. Mark, of course, eagerly accepted this opportunity.
Francine told us first Toutie had to clean her cage because “she gets anxious if she accepts male visitors when her home is dirty.” Our first thought was that Francine had been living in isolation with monkeys a tad too long… However, when Francine provided Toutie with a bowl of soapy water and a scrub brush, she went to town at cleaning. Yes… the monkey cleaned her cage. (We have it on video because I know you don’t believe me.)
Once the enclosure was cleaned, Mark was okay to go inside. At the time, there were four Capuchin monkeys in that enclosure. Francine assured Mark that since Toutie accepted him, the others would as well. It was true.
A New Mark Z Fan Was Born
Mark entered and simply stood in the center. Toutie immediately approached him and climbed up his leg and into his arms without any encouragement on Mark’s part or hesitation on hers. For the next fifteen to twenty minutes, Mark held Toutie in his arms. Toutie couldn’t decide whether she wanted to stare into his eyes or just hug him close to her. It was early December, so, of course, Mark sang a little Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, to her. As it has been the case for many girls before, that beautiful voice of his just sealed the deal!
More Monkey Love
Leaving her was difficult, but Mark promised he’d be back. He delivered on that promise just a few months later, when we returned in April of 2017 with friends.
Since our previous visit, Francine had rescued a new Capuchin monkey. Unfortunately, the new family member was struggling to adapt and be accepted into the tribe. As a result, Mark could not go inside and hold Toutie during that stay. However, from the moment she saw Mark, this monkey remembered him. She jumped up and down and stared deeply into his eyes anytime he came close to her.
During that stay, Francine spoke with us about needing assistance in running Urraca Private Island. The thought of spending our winter in this paradise, living in an overwater bungalow and playing with monkeys was pretty appealing to us!
December 9, 2017, we arrived for our extended winter stay. As soon as we climbed off the boat, Mark went directly to see Toutie, unsure if she would still remember him. The response was the same. She was crazy with excitement at the sight of him.
Whenever she spots him, she chatters and makes doe eyes at him. She clings to his hands though the cage. She does a little dance routine where she jumps up and down and moonwalks backward. Sometimes she throws in a ballerina twirl. She does strange flirty little boudoir poses for him. The funnies thing is she nods her head towards the back cage to indicate she wants to go in there with him. The back cage serves to separate her from the rest of the Capuchins so that Toutie can have human visitors.
One day, after trying to lure Mark into the back Capuchin cage for a couple of days to no avail… Toutie staged a jail break. Did I mention how smart Toutie is? We keep trying to find a lock she can’t figure out! One night as I was standing at the sink, I realize I’m staring at a Capuchin monkey and that there is no cage between us! Startled, I called for Francine. A couple of monkey escapees immediately begin looking for something to get into with their newfound freedom. Toutie, however, just sought out Mark, ran straight to him and climbed up his leg and into his arms. He was able to calmly walk her into the back enclosure, giving her exactly what she wanted – some quality time with him.
The Monkey Island Foundation at Urraca Private Island is currently working on an expanded enclosure for the Capuchin monkeys. The monkey playground will extend into the mangroves and will be a multi-level fun-zone for them. They will be able to climb trees and swing from branches any time they want, yet still be contained in a safe environment and be able to interact with visitors to the island. The project is in the early construction stages.
It will be hard to say good-bye to Toutie and the rest of the Capuchins in a couple of months when we return home. However, we know we will be back and Toutie and Mark will be reunited once again.