Playing With a Monkey in Puerto Maldonado — A Wildlife Tale

Playing with a monkey in Puerto Maldonado was probably the highlight of the time I spent there. I didn’t do much at all, but I did go to a campfire party in honour of the full moon with some artesano friends, which was cool.

Jungle-themed city scenery.
View of Puerto Maldonado from my hotel rooftop

And I visited a zoo, where again I didn’t think the animals were well-kept (no water and visitors could feed them whatever food they wanted — not healthy).

There were white-lipped and white-collared peccaries, turtles, a jaguar, a pregnant puma, an ocelot, a condor, boas, an iguana, an alligator (huge!), a tapir, and of course, lots of monkeys.

The first one I saw wasn’t in a cage, but she had a leash around her waist that allowed her to walk around a little. She was huddled in a tree with her head on her folded arms; she looked so sad!

I petted her and hugged her for a while, held her hand. I guess I gained her trust — she eventually climbed up on my shoulder and started checking my hair for fleas. When she was done, I returned the favour, grateful for her caring actions and eager to bestow upon her the physical attention she would get in her normal social habitat.

She was such a cutie! She took my glasses and flung them on the ground. When I poured water into the cap of my bottle, she didn’t want me to hold the cap while she lapped out of it, but as soon as she tried to hold it herself, she would spill the water everywhere. She never did figure it out…

I went around the zoo twice, so I hung out with her three times (she was closest to the entrance). When it came time to leave, I think she could sense my sadness, because she bit me, walked away, then came back to give me a cuddle.

Read more about what I did in Puerto Maldonado, including the experience with ceviche I’ll never forget, in Memories of a Carnivore.