Written by: R. Reeder
One of the best parts of watching the woollies is getting to see them interact with each other. One age class in particular takes the cake for cutest interactions, and these are the infants/juveniles of the group. While the adults sleep after a long period of fruit foraging, you’ll often notice the babies quietly playing among the branches close to their mothers. I’ve grown particularly fond of one individual: Conrad. He’s very small, stays close to Coco, his mother, although he is independent enough that he is usually not actually on his mother. Conrad is also the Benjamin Button of the group. He is the youngest individual in Group C, yet his face is old and wrinkled, his body fragile-looking. But, despite his odd-looking features, he’s got a lot of gumption. He’s the infant I see instigating all the play sessions with the other kids. These play sessions are some of the highlights of my time watching the woollies. You can’t help but smile as you watch them. While playing, Conrad and whomever he convinced to join him are hanging from their tails from a branch, swinging towards and away from each other, wrestling. Conrad is always the smaller individual, and so usually isn’t much competition for the other, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in energy. He is relentless. He will harass them until they are forced to put some muscle behind their actions to stop the little pest. During one of these play bouts Conrad was climbing all over a subadult male, Cuzco, who finally got fed up and put Conrad in a headlock. He eventually released him and walked away, but Conrad didn’t seem to mind. His sheer persistence had made him the clear winner of the wrestling match.
These playful interactions leave you with a strong sense that the group is more than just a band of monkeys; they’re a community. The individuals in Group C feel particularly close to one another, mostly because they are by far the smallest group and also usually stick together. This is actually kind of unusual for the woolly groups we follow. While Group C has a consistent group of thirteen that are usually together, the other three groups we follow have upwards of twenty members, and are often never seen all together. This gives rise to many questions. What is it about Group C that makes them so close? Why is their group relatively small, while the norm seems to be a larger group? Being a smaller group definitely allows them to forge closer bonds, and this may be why I see more social interactions within this group in general, especially among the babies. We don’t know why they are like that in the first place though. While we search for the answer, we will continue to have the pleasure of watching the energetic Conrad wrestle his way into the hearts of his fellow woollies, as well as our own.