Lesser mammals

More Monkey Business

Toby Ninan retired from Delhi Zoo about two years back. With his varied experiences with the wild animals in the zoo, he is the right person to direct your queries to. Hear what Ninan has to say about his life and chosen career!

No matter how humble we may feel or act most of us would certainly like a bit of massaging and uplifting of our egos.

One of the things that gives a 'Zoo Man' a great lift is when he is called out to capture a wild animal that has 'invaded' 'human' habitation. ...Well, monkeys in Delhi do this quite often and may I confess that this happens usually when one is at his lowest ebb and works miracles on his feeling of well being.

When out to capture a wild animal especially one of the primates all the basic cunning and predatory instincts have to play a great part along with one's skills of using tranquillizing equipment.

A very dejected press photographer came to my office at about 5.00 p.m and told me that he did not get a single picture or story for his news editor and wanted me to razzle up a story for him. Well, a few minutes before his arrival I had received a phone call from the P.M.O (Prime Minister's Office) telling me to come to the North Block of the Central Secretariat near the P.M's office to capture and take away a somewhat sick monkey who was quite a nuisance around there. I told the press man to follow our car but if anyone had questioned either of us we were not to show any recognition of the other.

The monkey, a big fat fellow with all the signs of obesity was sitting on the top of a ledge near one of the gates of the P.M's office. When lured with some food, he came out of the building and made himself comfortable on the roof of a cycle stand. A large number of office staff, security men and curious bystanders were in attendance.

Taking a deep breath, I aimed the blow pipe at the animal and blew hard. The dart was true and hit the big fellow on his backside. In about three minutes the cocktail of drugs (big as he was) began to take effect and with a big thud the animal dropped five feet to the ground. He was sandwiched among some cycles and in a trice my driver and I gathered him together in a gunny sack and dumped him inside the car.

The photographer was not lacking and he would get every bit of the action on film and even helped both of us in the final phase of putting the monkey in the car.

Well the photographer got his story and I got my "man".

The pictures appeared on the fifth page of the newspaper which was read by another newspaper man who gave me an opportunity to fly 3000 miles forth and back along with all V.I.P treatment to capture more monkeys!!

Toby Ninan can be contacted at Ninan@indianwildlifeclub.com

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