Photo of the Week: Baby Monkey

It’s actually tough for me to make a judgement call on all these wild animals being kept in captivity throughout Asia.

I can hear you gasping. What?!

I get your confusion; I understand your judgment – I was there, too. But it’s not so black and white.

Curious monkey. Vang Vieng, LaosThis little guy is now the second monkey I’ve seen kept by a family with a string tied around its body. At least this one had the string tied around its waist and not its neck, and wasn’t using it as some sick hanging and swinging device.

He was attached to a tree that was part of a ‘restaurant’ on the side of the road in Vang Vieng, right across the street from one of the caves we happened by in the area.

He was just a baby – translucent skin, fair fur, giant eyes. He was docile, soft; curious in a way that wasn’t intrusive or conniving, and was still at that phase of wanting to put absolutely everything in his mouth – beads, lighter, toilet paper.

But seeing him on a string leash was tough, and I confess, I judged. “Poor little thing.” I thought. “He probably wants his mom.” I brooded. And then his keeper spoke.

Tiny monkey. Vang Vieng, Laos

“He no have mama. Mama die. I take care of heem.” The woman is Laotian, in her fifties, with a traditional woven skirt under a yellow cardigan. She unties the leash from the monkey’s waist and lifts him onto her chest and he hangs on, both hands clutching her sweater like a lost child.

“People, they -” She motions a gun with her fingers and my group nods in understanding. They shot her. She nods. “I take care of heem.”

The monkey scampers down her skirt and climbs up onto the picnic table where we sit, and she feeds him rice from her hand. He eats grain by grain, totally consumed by the moment.

Monkey close up. Vang Vieng, LaosAnd I stopped judging.

Was this really that awful? Was she really so evil? Or was she going out of her way to take care of an animal that wouldn’t otherwise survive on its own? Do we not confine dogs to leashes, and children to cribs?

I don’t know…Thoughts?

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