Monkey Mountain

21 Mar

It was Sunday Funday over here, y’all! What a great little place we discovered and it’s definitely a must for all animal lovers. Not only do you get to see monkeys, but you get to walk amongst them…and feed them popcorn! How cool is that?!

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Less than two hours south of us, nestled in the woods of Lake Constance along the Swiss border, is Affenberg Salem. (Affen = Monkey, Berg = Mountain, Salem is the town). Affenberg is a 50 acre ape sanctuary, the largest such enclosure in Germany, and is home to more than 200 Barbary Macaques. They live freely here and allow folks to visit them in their forest. And when they get hungry for a treat, they come up and take a piece of popcorn right out of your hand!

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Aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?! Gah. I just want to squeeze them and snuggle them like the biggest creepster! Don’t judge.

Barbary Macaques are one of the most well-known Old World monkeys and are native to Algeria and Morocco, Africa. Aside from humans, they are the only free-living primates in Europe. One of the most interesting facts about these guys is the role that the males play in rearing young. Because of uncertain paternity, males are integral to raising all infants. Generally, Barbary macaques of all ages and sexes contribute equally to the care of young. Macaques are matriarchal, with hierarchy determined by lineage to the lead female.

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Let me take just a few seconds for a quick PSA. Most of y’all know my take on animal-related enterprises. I’m a staunch opponent of circuses, Sea World (although hallelujah for their most recent announcement that they will no longer breed orcas!), etc. Neve will NEVER set foot in either as long as I’m on this Earth and you can take that to the bank.  We only visit select zoos after doing my homework on how they’re run, where their animals come from…My point? If I can educate one single person about animal rights…If I can be the reason that one single person chooses to not give his money to these places…Then I’ll take it. Animals were not put on this planet to entertain us. They weren’t intended to balance on one foot or to stand on their heads. They weren’t meant to live in tiny metal enclosures or to swim in circles in manmade swimming pools. None of that is natural and NONE of it should be condoned, let alone supported. Please, please, please do your part to continue moving animal rights in the right direction.

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Now, back to Monkey Mountain :)…I can’t express how cool it was just roaming around with these little guys! Some were social and really interested in what we were doing. Some were cuddling and napping- others were playing high in the trees or grooming each other in piles of leaves…They were so cool. And Neve was in such Heaven ❤

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In addition to the Macaques, Affenberg is also home to fallow deer, several species of water fowl and a huge colony of free-flying white storks. Every fall, the 28 pairs of storks migrate to Africa, then return to Affenberg to raise their chicks every spring and summer. Storks return to the exact same nest- and with the same partner- year after year. Neat, huh?

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Affenberg is a lovely little refuge and a wonderful way to raise awareness about the plight of the endangered monkeys (yes, they’re actually monkeys but are often confused with apes because of their lack of tails). The park also offers a great opportunity for researchers and hobbyists alike to study these awesome creatures in a natural habitat, not to mention all the cool opportunities for photographers. Really can’t say enough good things about this little gem near Lake Constance.

Speaking of which, you know we couldn’t go all the way down there without visiting Europe’s third largest lake, behind Lakes Balaton and Geneva. Covering 220 sq. miles and reaching into three different countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), it’s 39 miles long and nearly 9 miles wide. Um, yeah. It’s huge! And standing on its banks, there are parts that feel like you’re looking out at the ocean when you can’t see the other side. Sure wish the weather had been more cooperative so we could’ve enjoyed the views even more, but even with the fog and low grey clouds, it was so great being on the water, seeing boats and docks and ‘beaches…’

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Ah…If I squinted my eyes, burrowed down in my coat a little more (temps today were hovering just above freezing) and held my head just right…it was just like home, even if for only a few seconds. ❤

Happy Monday.

4 Responses to “Monkey Mountain”

  1. Georgia March 24, 2016 at 4:43 AM #

    Love this report. So enjoyed the pictures also.

  2. Eleanor March 21, 2016 at 1:25 PM #

    A fun outing. I can remember monkeys climbing on our car, but have never fed them. What a great experience for Neve. A beautiful day in SC, azaleas blooming and gorgeous flowers inside !!!!

  3. Robin March 21, 2016 at 12:37 PM #

    What a fun day trip!! I suspect Lake Constance would be absolutely gorgeous in the summertime. Erin – you always start to miss water when you get too far away. It’s in your Lowcountry blood (along with 100 degree temp, 95% humidity etc.).

    • Anne Lambert March 21, 2016 at 3:15 PM #

      Wonderful pictures , as always. Love the one of the baby monkey on the adult monkey. Andy loves monkeys, bet he really enjoyed the trip!

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