Barbara J. King

Friday Animal Blog

Miami-Bound and Monkey-Boggled

July 15, 2011

For a full year, since my husband and I returned with incredible photographs, my daughter Sarah has had sights set on visiting the Monkey Jungle in Miami. She wants to see up-close the charming, inquisitive squirrel monkeys, the intensely beautiful, eye-enlarged and almost otherworldly owl monkeys, and all the other primate denizens of this place. Her enthusiasm of course brings delight to her primatologist mother.

And I’d love to meet again two friends, Sian Evans and Robert Cooper, whom I’ve known since our days living and working in Gabon, West Africa. Sian and Bob make wonderful things happen in primate conservation via their work at the DuMond Conservancy, housed at the Monkey Jungle. The Conservancy’s owl monkeys, for instance, gentle big-eyed creatures who are nocturnal by nature, have left behind their previous lives in biomedical-research facilities and live now in quiet pairs or small groups surrounded by calm, wonderful care.

So tomorrow, we’re Miami-bound. It’s a family trip with a jumble of plans.

Most importantly, Sarah will sing (the beautiful hymn Amazing Grace) at my cousin’s wife’s memorial service. As readers of this blog know, Carolyn died suddenly on June 20th during a trip from Florida to Virginia made expressly to cheer my mother during her post-surgical illness. Now it is our turn to travel to family; we hope to provide a measure of comfort to Carolyn’s husband, my cousin Tom, and their daughter Dania and her own family.

And we’re taking a day, too, for ourselves—with the monkeys and later at the ocean -- in the spirit of badly-needed relaxation and renewal.

Family- and trip-related errands abound today, and as a result this post is atypically short. If it leaves you pining for a quick animal fix, consider watching the CBS Sunday Morning program this Sunday, July 17 (9 – 10:30am EST). It’s a whole special edition devoted to animals and the animal-human bond, to be rerun from its April initial appearance.

My own 30 seconds of not-so-much fame, talking about cross-species animal friendships, comes near the end, but the variety of segments offers something for all species of animal lovers (Isabella Rossellini being eccentric! The tear-inducing “War Horse” on Broadway! People, renowned and not, who love their lives through animals!)

Most of the July 17th show will appear here after this coming Sunday morning:


First, though, please do have a look at—and consider supporting-- the good work done by the DuMond Conservancy, by exploring the links available here:



  1. July 15, 2011 2:04 PM EDT
    Thank you for this lovely blog and endorsement of our work. Really looking forward to seeing you on Monday. I'll likely not be able to catch the piece on TV on Sunday morning (too many volunteers) but can I catch it later on-line?
    - Sian Evans
  2. July 15, 2011 6:07 PM EDT
    Yes! The link right above the DuMond one should have most of the segments posted by late Sunday or Monday. If not, you, or anyone, please just email me and I'll be happy to provide at least my own segment. See you soon, Sian.
    - Barbara J. King
  3. July 16, 2011 5:05 AM EDT
    Barbara,thanks for the links, and have a wonderful trip.
    - Colleen

Selected Works

Why are animals so irresistible to us? Why do we live with and care so deeply about them? From the famous "art caves" of ice-age Europe, to the ancient villages where animals were first domesticated, to stories of apes, whales, dogs, and cats doing fascinating things today, King weaves together a scenario about the animal-human bond that encompasses our past, present and future.
Can scientists discover a prehistory of religion just as they have traced the evolution of technology, language, and art? What does compassion in chimpanzees, or burial patterns in our human ancestors and Neanderthals, tell us about the origins of religion? In Evolving God, named a Top Ten Religion Book for 2007 by the American Library Association, Barbara King explores these questions.
How do chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas-- the African apes -- communicate using body postures and gestures? Using her many years of experience studying these apes, Barbara King answers this question in a book that offers a new perspective on the evolution of language.