Growing up, I was never a huge fan of monkeys. But since knowing my bf, his love for monkeys has rubbed off on me. (What are the chances that he would've been born in the Year of the Monkey, Chinese zodiac style, too?) Monkeys are so fun to watch! Especially when they're running around and being playful.
My bf takes an annual trip for about a week in the fall to Arizona for Fall League, continuing on with his love of baseball. I usually join him for the trip, or at least part of it, and this year, I went for a few days last week. My friends think it's funny that the pictures from our trips are usually of baseball stadiums or zoos, but that's really mostly what we do! Baseball obviously for him, and the zoos for me but I'm glad he's grown to love seeing the animals as much as I do. We always have funny stories and sightings at every zoo we visit.
I'm not sure why I had never thought to look before but I checked out the Phoenix Zoo's website a few weeks prior and read about their amazing Common Squirrel Monkey Village exhibit. Basically, it's an enclosure that you get to walk into (like an aviary) but the squirrel monkeys are running about freely and all around you--no barriers!! I couldn't believe I didn't know this was there! Needless to say, we knew we HAD to go and visit the zoo during this trip.
The exhibit didn't disappoint one bit! My bf thought it would be an exhibit you walked into and the monkeys would be freely running but they'd be far away and you wouldn't be able to interact with them, but I was pretty sure (judging by my online research) that the monkeys would literally be right next to, above, and around you. I was right! We walked into the exhibit and there's a roped pathway but there were monkeys everywhere. Running along the ropes, jumping from tree to tree...we got really close to some and the zoo workers just tell you to give them about 3 feet of space but you're free to walk around the exhibit and take photos, etc. It was really amazing.
Although you're told not to touch or grab for the monkeys, I knew my bf really wished he could. How could you not? The squirrel monkeys are so little and with such cute faces. It's sort of scary when they're jumping around the trees above your head--the branches swayed a lot, the leaves rustled, and there was such loud crashing when they launched themselves from tree to tree. Sometimes it seemed like the branches might break or they'd slip and fall on you! My bf found a tall bush that swayed a lot and when the monkeys were chasing each other, two of them jumped onto that bush and it nearly smacked him in the shoulder. Secretly, I think he wished they'd miss or the bush would snap and they'd land on him, hehe.
We visited the exhibit twice during our afternoon there and I really didn't want to leave. I was happy that they didn't hustle you out or you had to line up to walk through the exhibit, so we got to leisurely walk around, watch the monkeys, and take pictures. We're planning a weekend trip to Arizona again in November and for sure, we're going to go and visit our monkey friends in the Monkey Village again! If you find yourself in Phoenix anytime soon, go check them out, too!