Entertained – and ravished – by inquisitive squirrel monkeys at the World of Birds

17 March 2013

After our leisurely stroll around the peaceful Silvermine reservoir on Sunday morning, we drove across Chapman’s Peak Drive from Noordhoek to Hout Bay, where we visited the World of Birds wildlife sanctuary and monkey park in Valley Road. We were lucky to find a free spot in the parking area in front of the sanctuary; clearly, lots of other people had also thought a visit was a brilliant idea. Entrance fees are R75 for adults, R40 for children, and R55 for pensioners and students with proper cards.

Welcome to the World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park in Hout Bay
Welcome to the World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park in Hout Bay

We were feeling rather peckish, as it was already after 11h00, so we ordered a muffin and a pot of tea at the Robin’s Nest restaurant just inside the entrance. It’s a very basic take-away place, where you can buy drinks, muffins, pies, toasted sandwiches and assorted snacks. Visitors are also allowed to bring their own nibblies and to find a spot to picnic in a section called the Flamingo Terrace, or in another section on the far side of the sanctuary, called, rather temptingly, “Tea in Paradise”.

The sanctuary covers a four hectare property, which is subdivided into 26 landscaped walks. I was surprised to see that we could actually walk right through many of the larger aviaries and enclosures. Some of them are open to the sky, so the birds are free to come and go as they wish. I think it must be a wonderful environment for kids eager to learn and observe the many different species of birds, mammals and monkeys – and for photographers who can get fabulous close-up shots. I saw some great pictures submitted by visitors to the World of Bird’s Facebook page.

Huge pelicans are waiting to be fed
Huge pelicans are waiting to be fed

They have birds of prey, vultures, owls, parrots, parakeets, cranes, waterfowl, storks, ibis, flamingoes, swans, emus, herons, hornbills, penguins, pelicans, and many others. There are also baboons, monkeys, meerkats, tortoises, wallabies, badgers, alpacas, jackals, porcupines, genets, bat eared foxes, banded mongeese, and a couple of buck. We saw the reptile house from a distance, but didn’t go inside.

It seems that most of the animals were donated to the sanctuary by owners who could no longer look after them, or they had been rescued or confiscated from their owners because of abuse or neglect. Many had been injured, and had to be nursed back to health, while others were rescued from illegal traffickers. It must be very expensive to look after all the animals, to keep them fed and to maintain their enclosures. They rely on sponsors and donations to keep the place open.

Our favourite place was the Monkey Jungle, which is home to around 30 to 40 squirrel monkeys. They are very inquisitive and playful – and they move like lightning! Their acrobatics on the branches of the trees and the various support structures of the enclosure were sooo entertaining to watch.

Oh dear - what's happened to my wig?!
Oh dear – what’s happened to my wig?!

We joined a whole lot of other visitors in the enclosure, which is open from 11h30 to 13h00 and again from 14h00 to 15h30. A strict no-touch policy must be observed: although you aren’t allowed to reach out to the monkeys or to pick them up, if you keep really still, it is very likely that they will climb all over you and sit on your lap or on your shoulder or even on your head!

Richard took me inside the enclosure, and found a spot to sit down next to the path. Within moments, two little squirrel monkeys had come over to take a look at me – and to climb all over Richard and me, tugging at my hair and eyes and mouth… They thought there was something hidden between the two yellow sheets of paper, so they pulled them apart to look inside. I was a little frightened, I admit, but it was also very funny!

Bromeliads flower in the Secret Garden
Bromeliads flower in the Secret Garden

I will never forget how it felt when their cool little feet and hands lightly touched me – it’s a bit like when Miss Tuffy-Cat walks all over me. Reggie, who was trying to take photographs of us in-between laughing, had to come to our rescue a couple of times. I think I shall need some minor cosmetic surgery after this experience, but Reggie reassured me that she would give me a proper make-over before she sends me off on my big voyage around the world.

Another interesting experience was watching the pelicans being fed by two workers, who were standing on a wooden platform overlooking a spacious shallow pool. I had no idea these beautiful white birds were so huge – or that they could be so noisy and assertive when being fed!

We walked all the way around the sanctuary, following the main path, but soon realised that we would not see everything that day. Actually, we only saw about a quarter of the place – you could easily spend an entire day here, or come back again and again.

What an unforgettable, magical experience it had been!

Click on any of the pictures in the gallery to access the image caroussel with all the captions.


8 thoughts on “Entertained – and ravished – by inquisitive squirrel monkeys at the World of Birds

    1. You’re most welcome, Bonnie. Would you have liked to play with the squirrel monkeys? I must admit that it was a little scary when they were tugging at my hair, but it was a lot of fun too!

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    1. It was an unforgettable experience, Barbara. I must admit, it was a little scary at times, when they were climbing all over me and tugging at my hair, but their little paws are so cute!

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  1. Hallo Flat Kathy! Looks like you had a great day. Lovely photos by the way and I absolutely love animals. Good to know that there is a sanctuary for abused or neglected animals. 🙂

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