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Monkey Business


By Jean-Paul Renaud

Published Jul 1, 2015 8:00 AM

Monkey Tales



Photo by Alex Hofner

Vandal, born in 1989, was the daughter of Abby, the matriarch of Abby’s group. She was an anxious and whiny juvenile but matured into a self-confident adult. Vandal had 11 offspring, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, but half of them died during their first year of life. She and her full sister Diablita (alpha female) were close friends and allies, helping each other fend off attacks by immigrant males. However, when alpha male Tranquilo killed Vandal’s baby and Diablita was still on the run, trying to save her own infant, Vandal changed her strategy: She teamed up with Tranquilo and took the alpha female position from Diablita in 2004. The sisters never fully restored their former intimacy, and Diablita eventually won her position back in 2006. Shortly after Vandal gave birth to her last infant, Peeves, she and Peeves were badly wounded (probably by an eagle), and Vandal disappeared. Her granddaughter Monster adopted little Peeves, caring for him until Vandal reappeared a couple of weeks later, looking gruesome but at least alive! Vandal and Peeves had a close relationship until she finally died at age 25, when Peeves was 3 years old.


Photo by Hannah Gilkenson


Pablo was the alpha male of Rambo’s group for about 17 years. In contrast to the more typically despotic alpha male style, Pablo often groomed the females and his male allies, and he allowed the other males in his group to affiliate and have sexual privileges, both with females and other males. Despite (or perhaps because of) his unusual style of ruling the group, Pablo became the most reproductively successful male in the population, siring at least 25 children, 105 grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren, and one great-great- grandchild, to date. Pablo’s political expertise permitted him to rule far beyond his physical prime: If he threatened a male intruder from another group, his sons and subordinate allies would rush off to attack the offender, and Pablo did not have to engage in direct physical combat. Pablo was finally deposed by his ally’s son Moth, but he was allowed to stay in the group, caring for his grandchildren until his death.