Monkey of My Domain

Monkey of My Domain

“What the world needs now, is love… sweet love.”

— Burt Bacharach 1966

Burt Bacharach was right when he penned this soliloquy of love back in the mid-sixties. What ol’ Burt probably didn’t take into account though was just precisely what kind of love the world needed. There are a gazillion different kinds you know. There’s the “love” love most of are familiar with, love of food and drink, football teams, music and money. Then there’s “other” love, like love of nipple rings, odor eaters, bad cinema, cereal, Elizabeth McGovern, and of course, monkey love. I love monkeys. Probably always will. Ever since I saw the 1976 remake of King Kong with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. Man, was that terrific when he tore that giant snake’s mouth open and it bled everywhere. That’s monkey power, jack… and he did it for love. (Insert strains of Bryan Adams here… )

Flash-forward about 12 years. I catch wind of a place right in my own back yard that has been catering to the simian crowd for a long time. A place where all kinds of monkeys and other animals are taken in and given a home. It’s not Busch Gardens or Lowry Park Zoo. In fact, it’s just outside of Clearwater, up past the Countryside area about 5 miles. Nestled on the cusp of Tarpon Springs just off US 19 sits a local treasure, Noell’s Ark Chimp Farm ( For almost 30 years now Noell’s Ark has been a staple along Alternate 19. Starting first as a traveling “wrastling” show featuring Bob Noell refereeing matches that featured local tough guys mixing it up with chimps, it has since turned into a permanent resting home for injured, abandoned, and retired show monkeys. The original Cheetah, god bless him, lives here. Johnny, the chimp who smokes cigarettes and says “mama” lives here also. I once watched him smoke a cigarette down to its filter in one long drag — that’s something, eh? There’s even a chimp that understands sign language. Add to that goats, ducks, raccoons, a big black bear and a gigantic alligator that had lived there for 20 years (the gator passed away in 1996) and now you’ve got yourself a show.

Granted, this place is by no means the Ritz-Carlton for animals. It’s small, sparsely decorated, occasionally stinky, but does possess a lot of character and genuine love flowing throughout. A right-to-life attitude definitely prevails here. I am sure some animal activists won’t share my sentiments, but as an activist myself, I for one say, since it’s already there, and since I see the same chimps year after year after year, let the owners have their way. The chimps are not exploited and seem well cared for. Word even has it that major renovations are under way.

Over the years I have taken countless friends, family and folks from out of town to the Chimp Farm and have yet to hear a bad review. We bring tasty treats such as grapes and apples when we go, and even try to bring old blankets for them around wintertime. What’s not to love, with a goat petting area, monkey chow to feed the monkeys with, frenzied baby chimpanzees going bonkers on display in diapers (the best!), and even two wooden caricature displays of playful monkeys that have the face areas removed so you and a friend can take a happy monkey picture of yourselves? The admission is a paltry sum (under $5 a person), and for that price you can easily afford to support the cause and receive a lasting experience. One of those “lasting experiences” is exactly what my wife and I received on a recent visit.

Something you should be aware of at Noell’s Ark is that the chimps, being chimps, sometimes throw things, particularly their own droppings. Hence the warning signs posted throughout that read, “CAUTION: Dung Throwers.” They aren’t just whistling Dixie, brother. We’re walking around, having our usual good time. The chimps all seem to be happy. They go about their usual routine of jumping about, hooting for monkey chow and grapes, doing back flips, making fart noises, and motioning for us to throw food to them. One chimp we run into, though, seems somehow extra responsive and willing to give us a show. We display the grapes we’ve brought, as usual, and in return, the monkey decides to show us his “grapes.” He then proceeds to do what any red-blooded American male would do in the presence of a beautiful woman such as my wife — he pops a Mongoloid huge boner. Talk about giving new meaning to the words “Homo-erectus.”

“Wow,” my wife comments, “that thing is big… “

“Big?” I’m thinking. “Freakish” is the optimum adjective here. As his cage partner looked sullenly on, apparently having been through this routine before, the horny monkey proudly displays his ever-twitching monkeyhood in a sanctimonious Chippendales routine the likes of which these male eyes can hope to never bear witness to again. But, alas, apparently this display wasn’t eliciting the proper response from us he had hoped for. Putting the character “Multiple Migs” from Silence of the Lambs to shame, and without warning or contact with himself, the chimp cheerfully busts a nut on the bars of his cage… and then throws it at us.

My wife and I look at one another as the fruit of this poor troglodytes labor dribbles down upon the tips of our soon-to-incinerated sneakers, and we’re literally held speechless. After a few seconds of this, I only manage to quip, “well… you won’t see that at Disney World.” Still not satisfied by his total breach of masturbation etiquette, this continental anthropoid rogue goes for the deuce by again tossing some of his monkey mustard at us through the bars and pointing to his member in mocking defamation of my character. Was I supposed to try and one-up this act in defense of my woman? Was my manhood being insulted and called into question? Ninety million years of evolution staring face to face and our closest evolutionary brother is tossing his skazm flop at strangers. And we’re supposed to have evolved from these guys?

Hey, I love all animals to death and would do just about anything to help them, but this is precisely why monkeys live in the deep jungle or in cages and not in our homes. They throw poop, they make fart noises to entice strangers to feed them, and they pop boners and scream at you. Only little boys aged zero to three do these things, and only in parts of Jersey and during some Middle Eastern marriage and religious practices are people so assiduous with their craft. But in “regular” civilization we don’t toss our mustard about, (maybe in private, but that’s another story) we coyly disguise our hard-ons, and I should hope that we don’t throw our poop.

It was only later that we had a good laugh. “Poor guy,” we thought. We should spring for a hooker and room for him. Seems that being locked in loud and proud was taking its toll. Thinking back, I believe this particular monkey could use a little dose of ol’ Burt’s lyrical prowess. In closing, by all means make the time to visit the chimp farm… they need your help and support. Your kids will love it and so will you. I can’t guarantee you of quite the same experience my wife and I had, nor would I wish it upon you. But as interesting and, yes, even “educational” that it is, it is not to be missed. Visit on the Internet for more information.

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