Source: Harare Garden’s unusual resident | The Herald January 18, 2020
Tiller Maringa Features Writer
The Harare Gardens have become home to many street dwellers.
During the stealthy cover of the night, they find comfort in warm spaces within the lush green park in the heart of Harare.
But the dwellers are not limited to humans, only.
Some animals have lived in the park longer than human inhabitants, if they could speak, they would describe every corner with astounding precision.
A 40-year-old monkey that stays at Harare Gardens has a better memory of the place than most in the city. Many know this lady, who besides preening her glossy coat and jumping from one tree branch to another nonchalantly, likes asking for food from passers-by. Her favourite ranges from chocolates to fruits. Is that not ladish?
Daisy has been living in parks for the better part of her life, the last five having been spent at Harare Gardens.
“Daisy” (wife) and “Raymond” (husband) came with the white man around 1990 and their custody was given to Joice Kudangiranwa. The monkeys and other animals like rabbits and tortoises were received at the Glen Norah Park where they were taken care of by Sister Joy,” Parks and Cemetery Supervisor at City of Harare Shophia Chizola said.
In the early days, they lived better than most in the animal kingdom.
“The custodian used to go and buy fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges from the Lusaka People’s Market in Highfield,” Chizola said.
Unfortunately, their first guardian died.
“The custody was handed over to Sisi Bennie (Benhilda Chifamba) after the death of Joice.
“At the park, the animals were living in a cage which was well equipped with swings and car tyres to create a favourable playing environment for the two,” said Chizola.
Chifamba is now on retirement.
Like with humans, romance in the monkey kingdom had its stresses.
“Ray” escaped from Glen Norah Park after having a serious fight with his wife “Daisy”.
It is assumed that there was a toxic relation between the two which caused the fight.
Daisy, the female monkey was left alone in the cage.
Unfortunately, the Parks Department at the City of Harare failed to bring back Raymond to his lover.
Loneliness gripped the female and started acting weird since they had no offspring.
Science has it that, isolating a monkey from its companions can cause it to develop depression-like behaviours.
A study from a Chinese neuroscientist Fan Xu reveals that monkeys can experience depression in a similar way to humans.
Monkeys are highly social animals and Daisy is more than that.
City of Harare, Parks Department transferred Daisy to Harare Gardens around five years back where she is laying her head and make “human” friends.
As time went on, the monkey developed a strong relationship with children who reside in the streets.
“We always play games on the swings with Daisy and also share food with her almost every day,” said one of the children identified as Nation.
Unfortunately, the City of Harare is now failing to provide meals which were being given to her by the former caretakers in the past.
The animal is no longer living in a cage like she used to and no proper care is given to the animal and turned to become a “beggar”.
The animal is now like “Mrs Gardens” and always loitering around the area.
She knows each and every corner of the garden and behaves like a human which is different from other monkeys.
City of Harare workers have suspected that, changing of custody caused the monkey to acquire specified human attributes.
The workers also highlighted that the monkey uses some gestures communicate with humans.
Shaking of head is an indication to say “no” and Daisy frequently used that when she is not approving what a person is doing.
A research done at Leipzig Zoo in Germany shows that apes shake their heads to disallow the young ones from climbing the tree.
However, the researchers cannot confidently conclude that the head-shaking gesture actually means that it communicates the sentiment of “no” to their young ones.
Margret Sapawo a general worker at Town House said the animal has the ability to understand Shona but lacks that of conversing.
Apart from head-shaking “Mrs Gardens” also uses a sympathetic facial expression added with an outstretched hand when begging for food from the locals.
She has a selective taste for fancy food and exemplifies it by chocolate which she gladly opens just like a human.
Daisy has the ability to recognise faces of the people that came across her on daily basis.
“There is enmity between Daisy and Mutizwa, one of the workers at the City of Harare. This developed after Mutizwa stoned Daisy sometime back and the animal always remembers and recognises the face of the person”, Mrs Chizola said.
The monkey does not want to be photographed especially by strangers.
“Daisy does not like people holding cameras, she hates to be taken photos” said Margret.
One of the most outstanding characteristics of the animal is that, she does not want to associate with people who uses charms.
“Daisy always chases them away and behave strangely”, said Mrs Chizola.
Every place has a story, when the Harare Gardens story is finally told, Daisy the resident monkey should feature prominently.