How To See Palestine: An ABC of Occupation

M is for Monkey

We met this baby monkey in the office of the director of the Qalqilya Zoo, Sami Khader. Her story evokes daily life under the occupation for non-humans. The baby's mother was in Nablus and the facility there was no longer able to care for her, thanks to the occupation. So Dr. Khader set out to bring her to Qalqilya. Everything went fine, except that he had to pass a checkpoint. The Israelis would not allow him to pass at the same checkpoint as the monkey. The required paperwork had to be sent to still a third checkpoint. Eventually, all three were reunited and the monkey entered the zoo.

But after this experience, whenever she got pregnant she would kill her offspring, like a simian Beloved, determined that her children should not go through the insanity of occupied life. Am I being anthropomorphic? Perhaps, perhaps not. Infanticide by female animals is rare, while being quite common among males. In one study of tamarin monkeys, mothers would sometimes kill their offspring if they lacked support to raise them. That's a judgment call and perhaps the Qalqilya Zoo monkey made one too, a cross-species judgment. Who can say that she was wrong to do so?

Humans, however, were not willing to let her decide so the director's office--and home--were now under the control of a capricious infant monkey. Draw your own conclusions.

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