I always liked Curious George when I was a child so when I saw that the feature film DVD was on sale at the grocery store for a ridiculously low price I bought it both for my own enjoyment and in anticipation of the day when Bill would be old enough to watch the movie as a distraction technique.
And boy did it work. I thought the Curious George movie was really just so-so. Too much about the love life of the man with the yellow hat and just not enough monkey. But Bill thought it was great. So much so that I thought I’d look to see if I could buy a Curious George monkey toy (no, you can’t – not sold in the UK) And that’s when I discovered the Curious George tv show. Apparently it’s a PBS show that was also aired – at least for a time – in Britain on Children’s ITV. I bought one DVD and then a few more. These PBS version is great – all monkey, very educational, and so cleverly done I don’t find it outrageously annoying after I’ve seen the episode 50 times.
And it’s not just Curious George that Bill loves. He’ll watch pretty much any monkey (though George is best). He loves to watch Monkey Business a reality tv series focusing on a primate rescue centre in Dorset.
And as for toys…it’s monkeys only. His aunt and few other people have bought him some really lovely stuffed animals, but he cares nothing for them. The only cuddly toy he’s ever had any time for is a monkey my mother bought him at a superstore in Calais.
Real live monkeys
Last summer I considered going to the London Zoo and taking Bill into the petting zoo area. But apparently you had to sign a climate change pledge to stroke some goats. For Simon, that was a step too far in the war on carbon. But the ZSL (as they seem to be branding themselves now) have removed the pledge and opened a new area for kids called Animal Adventure, plus Bill’s monkey love has fully blossomed so I took him to the zoo.
It was my first time to take him into central London on my own since he’s been fully mobile (Simon wouldn’t go, still fearful of the eco-prop), so I was a little nervous. He’s a willful child and prone to run. Overall he was pretty good and we were there for over four hours. He was maybe a bit more interested in the toys and the play equipment than the animals. And since I paid £18 to get in to see the animals, I wanted to see some animals , dang it.
Probably the best part of the zoo, from a two-year old’s perspective or perhaps the perspective of a parent as a two-year old was the animal adventure area. You had to climb up high to see the Red Panda or the weird animal whose name I can’t remember but looks like a giant meerkat. You had to crawl on your hands and knees to see the meerkats running around or see the aardvarks napping. He loved it.
When we visited the Nashville Zoo, Bill really enjoyed riding the carousel and so he thought he’d love the London Zoo one, too. There are two in London, one a big traditional one and the other more of a ‘children’s carousel’. We were standing next to the smaller one when he demanded a ride, and he enjoyed himself once it started but then he realized that the animals don’t go up and down and there was no music, he wanted off immediately.
No music, no up and down, get me off this thing
I was very excited to see that there was a spider monkey walk-through area. But sadly the monkeys had all retreated to their enclosure. If I ran the zoo, I think I would have blocked that off while there were paying customers on the premises. Dance, monkey, dance – or no peanuts for you.
We did get fairly close to one monkey though, a white naped Magabey. While everyone else was looking at the gorillas opposite, we had a look at the monkey. Bill was very excited to be separated only by a pane of glass from the monkey. Unfortunately the gorillas retreated and Bill’s excited squeal drew a crowd of competitors for the monkey’s attention.
Good thing there's some glass between us
On the way out, I was stopped by a ZSL market researcher who asked me all kinds of questions about our experience. (I try not to damage my survey karma) It made me realize all the things we hadn’t seen, we hadn’t gone in the bug house, African Bird walkthrough, reptile house or aquarium. We didn’t even see the penguins. So it looks like we’ll have to go back another time.
(Photo credit: Curious George in a box from doc.neuman on Flickr, all others – mine)