Animals & Wildlife Magazine

My Chimpanzee Love Affair in Girona, Spain

By Monkeys And Mountains Adventure @Laurel_Robbins

I swore I would never be the other woman, but everything went bananas after just one day of volunteering at MONA, a chimpanzee sanctuary located just outside of Girona, Spain, 100km NE of Barcelona or 32km south of the charming village Besalú and 74km south of Cadaqués, home to Salvador Dali’s house.

chimpanzee girona spain

Photo courtesy of MONA, used with permission.

His name was Toni.  He was handsome, but short – OK I’ll admit it, he was a midget, or “vertically challenged” in politically correct terms, due to a malformation of his spine.  What he lacked for in height, he more than compensated for in personality, despite his challenges.  For many years he lived in a small cage on the back of a truck where he worked as an entertainer, performing in commercials and circuses until he was rescued and brought to MONA.  It was love at first sight – for me at least, but he also seemed equally enamored, greeting me and stretching out his hand.  I longed for our fingers to touch, but short term volunteers are forbidden to touch the chimps for safety reasons (occasionally chimps will bite, especially ones that have previously been mistreated as is the case with the rescue chimps at the sanctuary).

I went to bed that night dreaming about Toni and the adventures we would share for the next three days while I was volunteering.  Then the very next day everything changed.  I found out that he was really in love with Amelia, one of the chimpanzee sanctuary’s vets.  I wanted to hate her for being the object of his affections, but I couldn’t.  She  was smart, dedicated, beautiful, caring, and nice.   Still, I felt so used.

The next day Amelia was attending to a wound on his son Nico’s hand.  Toni repeatedly banged on the door, wrought with  jealousy.  In that moment I instantly forgave him.  He really was love sick and really haven’t we all been there at some point?

On the third day, when Amelia wasn’t around, he gingerly offered his hand again.  I politely declined, more easily this time.  I wouldn’t knowingly be the other woman – even if he had captured my heart.

More adventures of my volunteer experiences at MONA coming soon.  In the meantime you might want to check out these cute monkey pictures of other primates.

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