Marty Casado holding a spider monkey at Spanish's house, 2007. Not a happy story.
Spanish (Jose Pacifico) used to have a spider monkey at his home called "Cariblandia" for many years. I would come down to his house early in the morning at sunrise and sit with the monkey in the trees (it was on a super long chain) for many many hours before anyone at his house got up. We played together (the monkey and I) for long periods and had a great relationship.
One day I went to his house and the monkey was gone. It had been returned to its owners at Marina's Store. But he had a new monkey, which was in a cage. I asked him if I could play with this monkey, and he said no no, this was not a good monkey to play with.
I said fine, we chatted for awhile and then he said "You really want to play with the monkey?" I said "Well sure if you think it's ok!" So we opened the door to the cage and I went in. That was a big mistake.
The monkey loved me very much, I was his new toy. He would not let go of me. He climbed onto me and held me tight. I held him like you would hold a baby against your chest. When a spider monkey wraps two arms, two legs, and a tail around you, you are fully captured. Good luck getting loose. Take off a tail and a leg, you still are wrapped up by one leg and two arms. Humans simply don't have enough flexible arms and legs to match up. When I was ready to leave, it was simply not to be allowed. I would take one appendage off of me, and there would still be four firmly attached. Plus he got VERY angry when I tried to get him off of me. He hissed loudly and flashed those big ugly teeth at me, biting me a little a couple times on my forehead. Believe me, those teeth look real ugly up close.
Meanwhile, outside the cage, Spanish, my wife, and his four or five friends were watching, not sure what to do. They offered the monkey toys, food, cigarettes, thing he normally loves, new things he might like, poking them through the cage, but he was NOT interested. He liked me, his new toy. After multiple attempts to get loose, and realizing I was going to be hurt by the monkey if I continued to resist, I told the spectators to go away and leave me to my own machinations.
I figured the only thing I could do was to go on monkey time. To relax, sit back, let the monkey play all it wanted and wait for an opportunity to escape. Otherwise it would end badly. He just got way too fired up when I tried to go. So I just let him poke at me, play in my hair, do whatever he wanted and after a couple hours he leaned to one side a bit. I then leaned HARD the other way and took off like a shot. He slipped off of me, and I ran for the door. It was a double door, so I had to get through both doors as quick as I could as he was screaming and chasing after me. After I got out, I was very relieved, until Spanish told me I had forgotten to close the inside door of the two door system. So had to go back inside and nervously close the interior door before the monkey saw what was going on, and the I got the heck out of there.
I got huge hugs from Spanish and my wife, who were both quite worried about the whole thing and very glad to get me out of there with only minor scalp bites.
A year or so after this happened, the same monkey escaped its cage, broke into a room at Banana Beach Resort, bit a tourist pretty badly and had to be put to sleep.
Moral of the story: Don't play with monkeys! Leave wild animals alone, don't mess around with them. It can get scary. I can still see those big long dirty ugly teeth in my face. My wife Becky hates spider monkeys to this day.
Photographs by Marty and Becky Casado
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