The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey - Issue Twenty-Four
The Fear of Monkeys
Get To Know

The Yellow-tailed Wooly Monkey: photo from Christian ArtusoThe Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey is a rare primate found only in the Peruvian Andes where they live in rough terrain in the cloud forest. They are arboreal and diurnal and adult males can reach sizes of 51.3 to 53.5 cm with tails even longer than the body and can weigh as much as 11 kg. Their fur is longer and denser than other woolly monkeys which is an adaptation to its cold mountain habitat. They are deep mahogany and copper with a whitish patch on their snout extending from the chin between their eyes. Their fur gets darker towards their upper body, making their head seem almost black. Their powerful prehensile tail is capable of supporting their entire body weight and it also uses its tail to help move through the canopy. They have been known to leap 15 metres. They live in large mixed social groups of approximately 23 individuals and they have a multiple-male group social system and a polygamous mating system. For all that, they have low reproductive rates and long inter-birth intervals, which adds to their vulnerability for extinction. They express aggressive behaviors upon initial encounters such as branch shaking, showing their buttocks, and making short barking calls. Their diet is primarily frugivorous, but they also eat leaves, flowers, insects and other invertebrates. Oddly, they also engage in geophagy, or the consumption of soil. Geophagy is a rare biological behavior but the species benefits from this tendency since it allows for the intake of minerals and the detoxification of the intestinal region of parasites and other diseases. Perhaps related to the fact that they tend to suffer from an iron deficient diet, their consumption of soil allows iron that they do not get from their regular diet. Although, like most primates, the Yellow-Tailed monkey has low birth rates, their main threats are all human-related. The last estimated population count was less than 250 individuals, largely because of the loss of habitat due to slash and burn agriculture. Afraid of losing their farmland to conservation efforts of the species, a rising population of farmers say they do not hunt the monkeys but that the land is necessary for growing coffee and raising cattle. The construction of new roads, habitat loss and fragmentation from agriculture, logging and cattle ranching, and subsistence hunting, together with the monkey's naturally low population densities, slow maturation, low reproductive rate, have led to a predicted decline of at least 80% over the next three generations. They are considered one of the world's 25 most endangered primates.


Slavery by Another Name


Kayla Blau

It is 1947 and ice picks are being hammered into skulls. The patient lays on the small, metal bed, subdued by electroshock therapy in preparation for the lobotomy. The blunt ice pick is being inserted directly above the eyeball, blindly moving up and down to sever the brain fibers, to mute the patient's personality, inhibitions, memories, and emotions--the pure core of them. Sheets of Pacific Northwest rain mourn the loss through barbed wire windows. Later, a wire knife with an open steel loop at the end is being inserted through holes in the skull to remove the unwanted brain tissue. The procedure takes ten minutes.

The deserted Western State Mental Hospital gloomily sprawls across 264 acres of land just outside of Tacoma, Washington. Its burdened secrets and depraved ghosts swim in the nearby Puget Sound, some say, splashes of maltreatment revealed with their every move. Paint has long chipped away here, and the decrepit walls now read red graffiti warnings: in silence they scream. Never forget forced death. Forced death. Perhaps it's like someone stealing the sweater of your mind, like a zombie, a doctor telling you that now, finally now, you will be normal.

The father of the lobotomy, Dr. Walter Freeman is quoted to say the "lobotomy gets them home." Whose home are they getting to?

It is 1952 and Western's inhabitants are tightly packed into crumbling dorms designed to house half that. There are 14 doctors and 38 student nurses caring for 2,700 patients, less than a third of what national standards call for. Trails of filth, ethical misconduct, and budget cut grumbles echo down the hallways. Rumors of certain wards becoming brothels for soldiers from nearby Fort Lewis are whispered and screamed throughout the dorms, but fail to reach newspapers. Sixty years pass and some patients speak up, detailing stories of child abuse, rape by doctors, malnutrition, neglect. All cases are dismissed.

It is 2016 and our prisons are overflowing; slavery by another name. Sixty-one percent of prison industrial complex bargaining chips are suffering from a mental illness. Locked in closed cages, various pills for mis-diagnosed disorders rattling in paper cups. Put away. This is the hospital now. This is "getting rehabilitated." This is what your white news anchors want you to be scared of, what they mean when they say "lost cause."

On the outside, privileged white girls with an anxiety diagnosis are urged to "self-care" with mountains of soft pillows and anti-depressants and cat GIFS. On the inside, souls are crushed under orange jumpsuits, tracked, labeled, bartered. Lives are exported from humanity like society's unwanted brain tissue.

So what is broken? Faulty neurotransmitters? Broken systems? Broken laws? "Broken families?" Please, show me a family that's whole. Show me a culture that prioritizes mental wellness over pharmaceutical companies. Show me support systems that let us possess our brokenness like splintering mirrors, that don't try to fix us. Show me a world where we are all more than case files and waiting rooms, medical bills and banishment. Show me a world that values its beings, as "broken" as we may be.

Kayla Blau is a Seattle based writer, social worker, and community organizer.

All Content Copyright of Fear of Monkeys