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The death of Rhonda the monkey at Brit Spaugh Zoo is a loss of a rarity
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To the editor,

I read the article in the Great Bend Tribune: “Zoo says goodbye to Rhonda, the Grivet Monkey” (Dec. 17 issue). It is obvious that as all animals ‘age’ and develop health problems, they grow progressively worse, and that death is quite sad. It is a fact of life, whether it be animals or humans who endure long lives with natural ailments.

The article noted the “Rhonda” the Grivet monkey was suffering from bad arthritis and a tumor on her neck, necessitating the animal having to be euthanized to prevent further pain and suffering. Losing an animal friend is just as emotionally painful as losing a human friend or relative. I am certain that Zookeepers at the Brit Spaugh Zoo did their utmost to provide ‘Rhonda’ the Grivet Monkey the best of compassionate and tender loving care up until the end of her days.

The article noted that three monkeys: Rhonda, Tupac, and Acia moved to the zoo in 2007. Zoo officials estimated “Rhonda’s” age to be in her late teens or twenties. I read a little about Grivet monkeys. Grivets have facial skin, hands, and feet which are black. The face has a white line above the eyes. It has long, white whiskers on the cheeks. 

It stays on the ground most of the day to eat, but sleeps in trees at night.  Grivets are ‘omnivores’ which means that they have the unique ability to eat on both plant and animal matter, whether it be fruits, vegetables, insects or even small mammals. Yet, the Grivet itself, is often the object of predators by large snakes, leopards, and even humans. The loss of forestation has also contributed to their near extinction. Grivets were depicted in drawings as house pets in ancient Egypt.

Some were depicted as pets being on leashes and their bodies were often entombed near their human owners inside those ancient Egyptian tombs. They were imported from “The Land of Punt”, which was a trading-partner of Ancient Egypt. It is conjecture that the Land of Punt was possibly the Horn of Africa. Grivets are smart animals and their numbers are dwindling. 

With the current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic raging it is probably best that the Great Bend zoo to not acquire any new animals until medical professionals and scientists get a better handle on the cause (and hopefully cure or resolution) of the current COVID virus. In any case “Rhonda” the Grivet Monkey will be missed. Humans can learn a lot by studying various species of animals. In the case of Grivets, they are more and more dependent upon mankind for their survival for future generations.

James A. Marples