It’s not just monkeys

Weatherwise, yesterday wasn’t the best time to visit La Vallee des Singes – Monkey Valley. It was overcast, damp and chilly and combining that with the vivid autumnal colours, it made photography difficult. Generally I found it hard to focus on my subjects, and out of 293 photos I only ended up with a handful that were reasonable, and nothing at all spectacular.

La Vallee des Singes closes for the winter on Sunday 11th November. We are lucky enough to live about four miles away, and every year since it opened in 1998 I’ve visited at least twice. But this year has been so busy that the only opportunity I’ve had was yesterday.

Despite the weather I found it, as always, the perfect place to unwind, relax, chill out and forget the rest of the world. The park has been continually enlarged since it first opened, and covers an area of 40 acres of trees, streams and bushes. It is the only park in France inhabited by a group of Bonobos, who are on the verge of extinction in the wild. In August one of the females gave birth to a baby, a rare event in captivity.

Since it first opened the park has also seen the birth of 10 baby gorillas, as well as other rare species like the Diana Roloway monkey.

There were only a handful of visitors yesterday and I barely saw another human being. But plenty of animals, and not just monkeys. Here are a few of the characters I met.

Squirrel monkey

This is the medicinal garden of the Squirrel Monkeys where they can treat themselves.

I wondered whether amongst this group was the guineafowl I brought here a couple of years ago after I found ie sleeping in the hall next to our dogs’ beds.

Everything you ever wanted to know about woolly pigs!

Woolly pigs, hard to see as they blended in so well with the autumn leaves and mud.

Two pretty kids.

The bees are vital to us. If there are no bees, there will be no food for us. We must stop poisoning them with chemicals.

This is part of the area where the Barbary apes live – the ground is thickly carpeted in clover.

The autumn colours were beautiful.

This bonobo was lying on a platform on his back with his head dangling. He managed to look most uncomfortable but extremely relaxed.

A friendly turkey, rather a poser, who followed me around and kept getting in front of the camera.



Somali sheep, also known as Berbera Blackhead sheep

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