Within weeks of this vervet’s birth, the baby monkey was found on the side of a road in Zimbabwe, disheveled and cold. His mother had been struck by a car. While it looked like he was headed for a life of loneliness, this brave creature found meaning from the most unexpected place.
Lost On The Side of The Road
Life didn’t exactly get off to a smooth start for Horace, the little vervet monkey. As he and his mother were crossing a street in Zimbabwe in 2015, tragedy quite literally struck, in the form of a speeding vehicle. While Horace was safe, his mother was hit and left motionless on the concrete.
As the vehicle drove off into the distance, the little monkey didn’t move from the spot of the accident. Being just a baby, he literally didn’t know where to turn to. And it wasn’t before long the stranded infant was faced with another pair of headlights. They were closing in on him.
Fate Rests In The Hands of Strangers
Beaming headlights were zooming in on the infant vervet, but they suddenly veered off to the side of the road. These weren’t more careless drivers, but some good Samaritans who were there to save the traumatized baby monkey. They wasted no time and began immediately tending to the little guy.
The kindly strangers took him directly to an animal sanctuary called the Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary. First established in 2011, the sanctuary has since garnered quite a reputation around Zimbabwe. From birds to lions, when an animal needs rescuing, they’re usually the ones to step in. But it wasn’t going to be easy.
The Only Monkey Of His Kind
When his rescuers dropped the baby monkey off at the Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary, he was pretty much helpless. Knowing little beyond his mother, the little guy was timid and on edge when being handled by human workers. In an effort to solidify him as part of the shelter’s family, they gave him the name of Horace. But that did very little in getting him settled.
There were no animals that even slightly resembled the young monkey. The shelter had cats, dogs, birds, lions and even antelope, but zero monkeys up to that point. Beyond the human care he was getting, the little guy felt utterly alone. Just when things seemed they could get any worse for the monkey, one animal approached him.
The Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary had a bit of a problem on their hands. They were extremely short on volunteers and were overflowing with a huge amount of orphaned animals. For that reason, the sanctuary’s founder, Sarah Carter, decided that they would raise all of the animals together.
While that environment can be fun for some, it was bound to be quite intimidating for baby animals, and Horace was no exception. But the baby monkey was in luck. As it would happen, a pair of kittens reached out to him. Slowly but surely, he opened up to them — and then something astounding began to happen.
Maybe it had to do with gentle nature of the kittens or that they were all similar in size, but Horace got along swimmingly with his new fuzzy friends. They’d play together, nap together, and just cuddled for the sake of cuddling. His feline companions brought to light a side of Horace that nobody had ever known about.
While the humans did what they could for the baby monkey’s needs, his cat friends actually did a lot more for him on an emotional level. They completely welcomed him into their family. Once he befriended the kittens, other animals began to notice Horace — and wanted a piece of him.
Horace’s New Crew
While his friendships started with the cats on the property, Horace would soon find himself making more friends. He found one of his most loyal companions in a rescue dog named Keiko. Once it became apparent to him that all the animals were friendly and domesticated, Horace began to flourish socially.
Workers began to notice that this shy and frightened monkey that they had rescued from the side of the road was beginning to act like the wild animal he was born to be. However, he was far from your average jungle monkey. In fact, some of his antics would leave workers scratching their heads.
Being The Horace He Was Born To Be
The Twala Trust Animal Sanctuary wasn’t just a sanctuary where the animals were fed and given shelter. It was a loving environment that was completely free from the dangers of the outside world. It really allowed Horace to live exactly like he wanted to, and develop and bloom into his identity as a vervet monkey.
Sarah Carter stated in an interview with The Daily Mail, “Horace is a master napper. He fights it though as he is afraid he will miss something…And he loves to nap and sleeps anywhere he pleases.” She also remarked that the little monkey is extremely curious. He’ll become almost immediately taken by anything, and then he’ll try to snatch it. That said, there is one particular pastime that has caused concern among the sanctuary staff.
The Thieving Monkey
Overall, Horace has a very sweet personality. However, he does have a bit of an addiction to pilfering from others. Carter remarked during an interview with The Daily Mail, “His biggest vice is being irresistibly drawn to the forbidden food he is not allowed to eat, places he shouldn’t be, objects he is not supposed to touch.”
And it hardly stops there. This cheeky monkey not only steals, but has learned how to be downright sneaky about it. Horace is known for coming up to a stranger, acting very affectionate, and then quickly grabbing their keys and dashing off for the nearest tree. But if you thought stealing was his strangest trait, you’d be wrong.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Horace wasn’t exactly raised to be your average jungle vervet. As a baby monkey, he was raised around dogs, cats, and a number of other species. As such, when he’s hanging around a group of puppies, he’ll unleash his inner puppy. When he’s with the cats, he’ll turn into a little monkey kitten.
As usual, caretaker Sarah Carter said it best: “He runs around in the middle of the night, in the dark, with the cats…All the other monkeys got to sleep when it starts to get dark because that’s their instinct. Meanwhile, Horace is busy running around the garden at 10 o’clock at night. He’s a character.” His odd quirks separate him from the other animals, which can sometimes make for a bizarre spectacle.
The Center Of Attention
Despite being a grown-up nowadays, Horace isn’t really throwing his weight around at the sanctuary like a proper adult. The little guy still loves being treated like a baby monkey. Horace has several key moments where he often refuses to help himself, and they’re all related to sleep.
Sometimes he’ll be so tired that he’ll hitch a ride on the back of his dog friend Keiko, and ride around the sanctuary. While his antics can come across as annoying to some of the animals, none of his friends ever give into their natural instincts and attack him. Yet Horace has a side to him that’s far deeper than just fun and games.
The Thinking Monkey
Life in a sheltered environment has obviously hindered Horace in some ways. He certainly wouldn’t have what it takes to live in nature like most monkeys, as wild vervets have to live in the trees and be on the constant lookout for predators. However, his living conditions have allowed the monkey to expand mentally beyond his wild cousins.
Many times over, Sarah has seen Horace carefully looking at things for hours on end. She observed, “He is a thinker – often sits gazing into the middle distance, twirling a leaf or a flower or a twig in his hands, totally lost in thought.” But while the young monkey had learned to be carefree, his past would soon return to haunt him.
Horace Meets Hamish
Horace hadn’t brushed shoulders with another monkey since he parted ways with his mother on that tragic day back in 2015. However, all that was about to change, as sanctuary workers found a new baby vervet monkey who was in need of a home.
They named the monkey Hamish and brought him in to meet his now-adult counterpart, Horace. Upon first glance, it was very apparent that Horace was touched emotionally by seeing the baby monkey. Some workers wondered if the two would hit it off. Vervets can be very territorial animals, and there was a chance that Horace would reject Hamish.
An Immediate Connection
There was neither hesitation nor squabble for territory with Horace, as he immediately took Hamish under his wing. Perhaps Horace remembered what it was like to be a baby monkey in an environment with strangers, because he gave his new friend the warmest of welcomes, and began taking him everywhere.
Soon enough, there were two vervets snuggling with the kittens and playing with the puppies. It took little time before news outlets got hold of Horace’s touching story, noting how it seemed to go full circle with the newest monkey. The little character became somewhat a celebrity in the shelter. And their story had a great parallel.
Running Into Some Monkey Trouble
Far across the globe from Zimbabwe, high up in India’s mountainous northern province of Himachal Pradesh, sits the non-profit organization called Peepal Farm. This animal sanctuary was founded in 2014 by friends Robin Singh and Joellen Anderson. Since then, they have rescued over 600 animals in the region.
While the team working at Peepal Farm have come across many memorable rescues in the past years, one hit them the hardest: a little monkey named Avni. She and her family had been playing on some power lines when tragedy stuck. Avni was severely electrocuted and fell to the pavement below. Her family had dashed away, leaving her where she lied.
The staff at Peepal Farm were immediately called in about the fallen monkey. Upon arrival, they didn’t even know if she was still alive, as her wounds appeared to be very serious. When they went in to grasp her, the little monkey suddenly came to life, and began dodging their traps and looking for places to hide.
Eventually, they were able to rescue the infant and take her back to the farm. Following a series of surgeries, especially for her arm, they were able to get her into a somewhat stable condition. Being an injured baby in a strange environment couldn’t have been easy for the monkey. However, something rather odd happened when another animal approached her.
Taken Under Billo’s Wing
Avni was having a hard time. She was severely injured in an animal sanctuary holding area and knew nobody. She likely also missed her family who left her. Just as it seemed life would never hand her a good card again, Billo, one of the sanctuary’s rescue cats, casually walked into the room.
In a move that left many sanctuary workers scratching their heads, Billo instinctively snuggled up next to the injured monkey and began cuddling with her. Many were concerned over this random act of affection. The wild monkey was already scared and stressed and it was impossible to tell how she’d react to Billo.
Forming A Strong Bond
By nature, monkeys are not loners, but pack animals. Even having Billo the cat by her side brought little Avni a ton of comfort in her moment of need. The monkey happily embraced the cat’s cuddles and for the first time began showing signs of calm. As the days passed by, Billo and Avni became inseparable.
Billo took on the role of mother figure for the injured little monkey, who refused to go anywhere without her feline friend. The monkey would always have one hand on the cat’s back at all times, and when they rested with one another, she would lovingly groom Billo’s fur. Sadly, this friendship wasn’t something that was meant to last forever.
Granting Her Freedom
With a lot of help from her adopted mother Billo, Avni soon found herself back in tip-top shape. She was climbing trees, hopping on roofs, and balancing on clotheslines. While this was remarkable to witness, it came with a sad side for the odd couple.
At the end of the day, Avni was a product of the wild, and didn’t really require keeping on an animal sanctuary. They decided to give her a soft release, meaning they would gradually release her into the wild. However, Anvi didn’t hold back and immediately took off into the forest. Nobody at the sanctuary believed that they would see her again.
Returning For Billo
Up to that point, Anvi had never been alone in her life. Being a social creature, one can only imagine that soon after hightailing it out of the Peepal Farm sanctuary, she was longing for some company, especially for her cat mom Billo.
Within a couple of days, sanctuary workers came across a surprising sight: Billo cuddling up with her old monkey friend. The sanctuary had become the monkey’s home, and the workers and the animals there had become her family. Nobody knows what exactly happened to Avni during those couple of days that she was in the wild, but something was definitely different about her.
It seemed that Avni was at the sanctuary to stay. However, she definitely had grown into her behavior as a monkey. No longer was she spending all of her time at Billo’s side, as she once did. Now, the monkey made a point of befriending all of the other animals at Peepal Farm.
Avni loved to jump over the sheep and hang on the laundry lines. She especially loved playing with the puppies, who always had enough energy to keep up with her. But when all was said and done, the little monkey always returned to Billo. There wasn’t another animal on the planet who she’d rather cuddle with.
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