Photo: Injured railroad signalman James Edwin Wide, with the baboon he bought and named Jack. This baboon would help with chores around the house and later learned to hear train signals and throw correct switches. (Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain)
By Corianous, age 10
Let’s not kill monkeys. Let’s feed them. Think of it as a science experiment. We try it. If it works, fine. If not, then we can think about other ideas.
I just read a story about a railroad man who lost both his legs in an accident and trained a primate to help him switch railroad trains. The primate was a type called a baboon, and guess what! He was actually really good at it – so good that the railroad gave him an employee number and put him on the payroll.
The monkey worked nine years before he died. During that time, he made not one switching error. In fact, he had a better track record than some of the human employees; and passengers in the trains loved to see him and waved. So what does this have to do with St. Maarten?
Well, I read we have a monkey problem and some people just want to kill them all. I think this is wrong. They are god creatures and were brought to St. Maarten against their will. They were locked in cages, and stared at.
Freed by hurricanes, the monkeys are still not in their natural home. To me, it seems they are scavenging for food, ripping up gardens and taking all the mangoes off the trees. So let’s feed them like the dog lovers do by St. Maarten Little League Ballpark. The dogs used to be a problem, but now that they know food is coming, they no longer seem aggressive.
We can ask the stores to donate over ripe fruits and vegetables. No Brussels sprouts, though, they are yucky. More importantly, the animal people are catching the dogs a few at a time and getting them to the vet, so no puppies will be added to the pack. So let’s do that with the monkeys. I read that a Dutch group has offered to help fund the visit to the vet.
And let’s make a game preserve or sanctuary up on the mountain where they are hiding. We could open up the area and use it as a tourist attraction. The money collected could help offset the cost of feeding the monkeys if we do not get enough old food for them. Seems like a good deal for all – and we don't have to kill them.
The picture shows James Edwin Wide with Jack the baboon. Jack helped with chores and later learned to hear train signals and throw train switches. Our monkeys are not that big and we do not have trains, so we do not need the monkeys to do heavy work. They just have to eat and play and smile for the camera.