Monday, July 7, 2008
A Visit to the Gibbon Center
I've been in California now for five nights. This is my 23rd visit, & my second this year, so the novelty has sadly worn off. I remember coming here & being so excited with the unfamiliarity, as if I was on a different planet.
But some of that unfamiliarity came back a couple of days ago when we visited The Gibbon Centre at Valencia. I thought that a Gibbon was a good name for a Butler, but it turns out that it's an endangered species. If I looked at one, I would say a gibbon was a type of monkey, but I'm not sure if that's strictly true.
My friend Marge's step daughter, Kat has been volunteering there over the summer & we went to visit her. Kat reminded me of a cross between Jane Goodall & Diane Fossey, the gorilla lady.
When we first arrived at the centre, I thought I'd landed on the set of one of those disturbing Post-Apocalyptic films, where everyone except Will Smith has been annhiliated by aliens. It was about a hundred degrees with absolutely no shade. We parked in this what seemed to be a vast empty carpark before entering the compound which was absolutely full of ancient garden seating & tables, old aluminium teapots growing off trees & hoards of rakes & other implements of torture.
But the Gibbons didn't seem to notice. They were all happily ensconced in large cages dotted around the center. We followed Kat around as she meticulously fed them a variety of steamed vegetables.
I was exhausted in about five minutes & was desperate to get back into the car & drive to the nearest air conditioned Starbucks which was actually only about five minutes away but it sure didn't look like it. I couldn't imagine myself living out there in a trailer, which is where Kat stayed getting up at 6am to cut up a whole mess of apples to feed to The Gibbons.
But what was truly amazing to me was that the place was dotted with Gibbon Babies. Here's this endangered species propagating in an alien environment all because this one guy, Alan, became obsessed with them as a child. It's his persistance & determination that's kept the place going. I'm impressed.