Blood, sweat and tarsiers – Part 2

Oh the tarsiers! Among the smallest primates in the world, catching a glimpse of these little darlings was at the top of my Philippines “to do” list. Bong, my trusty motorbike chaffeur, assures me that he will take me to the best tarsier viewing location money can buy—the Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary. It sounds so eco-chic, a pristine swathe of Philippine forest cum playground for the tiny tarsiers to while away the sultry afternoons, swilling miniature daquiris perhaps? We arrive at a roadside stand, with a large painted sign that reads “Tarsiers this way.” Here we go! But once through the gate, there is simply a small pen of chicken wire with some scraggly trees containing a few bedraggled tarsiers, that cling precariously to the branches for dear life. Although the “sanctuary” is not as I had imagined, the tarsiers are even better. I can’t help but squeal when I first see one. Tarsiers resemble a cross between ET, a gremlin and a very old man. Their giant, protruding eyes bulge eerily, but although they look like they are plotting evil schemes, tarsiers’ eyes are larger than their brains so there is a good chance they are merely thinking of where to get their next meal or perhaps contemplating which tree to jump to next. I snap a few very careful pictures, because in my tarsier research I had read that should the puny primate feel threatened, it will commit suicide by repeatedly banging its head on a hard surface rather than live a life of pain and suffering in captivity. Poor little creatures! After getting my tarsier fix, I make a donation to the tarsier food fund, then purchas a few compulsory tarsier keychains for good measure. It wasn’t the official sanctuary, I later came to find out, but at least I got to put a check on my “see tarsiers in the Phillipines” box.


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