Canals, culture, and coffeeshops were on the list of things I expected to find on a trip to the Netherlands. But, MONKEYS?!? I did not expect to find monkeys walking around in Northern Europe. Once I gave a bit of thought to the Netherlands’ colonial history, a parkful of primates began to makes sense.
Apenheul is located in Apeldoorn, which is about an hour’s train ride from Amsterdam, followed by a short bus trip from the train station. Both are quite clearly marked.
Getting around in the Netherlands was ridiculously easy. We got a reloadable OV-Chipkaart that could be used on trains, buses, trams, and the metro. You just tap-in when you board, then tap-out when you disembark, and it charges you for the ride. You’ll pick up a key Dutch phrase if you ride often enough, “Vergeet niet uit te checken met uw OV-Chipkaart!”.
Entrance prices are quite reasonable for a zoo. If anything, I would think they are undercharging, when you consider that they are not publicly funded and rely solely on income from visitors. It costs €21 for an adult right now, and they are open from mid-April until the end of October.
We went on a gray October day and the crowds were not bad at all.
Just after we got off the bus near the entrance, we were fooling around, taking photos with a gorilla statue, when a very loud siren started blaring. It was the type of siren you’d imagine in a jailbreak scenario. We imagined it could be all sorts of things ranging from natural disaster to hostage situation, but our best guess was that one of the apes had escaped. We looked around, and no one seemed to be acting worried. Maybe this is a regular occurrence in this neighbourhood?
We proceeded through the entrance and enjoyed the path through the natural wooded park area to the main ticket area. They supply you with monkey-proof bags and lockers in case you have anything that the monkeys might be interested in absconding with. This is important, because the absolute BEST thing about Apenheul, is that some of the monkeys are free-range!
Not long after getting past the monkey-proofing area, we encountered the cutest of all possible monkey types, Squirrel Monkeys, jumping around, climbing the trees and buildings, chasing each other, and just generally being adorable.
I was really lucky, in that these monkeys seemed quite interested in climbing on my cameraphone. There are signs asking you not to pet or pick up the free-ranging animals, but in this case, they jumped on me, so I figured it was alright.
For another perspective of this encounter, check out the video…
While I liked seeing the Barbary Macaques,
and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Ring-tailed Lemurs up close and personal,
I was not such a huge fan of this Marmoset. (Although, I fully acknowledge my stupid tourist moment in this incident.)
I’m pretty sure that people like me are why they have to have this sign:
That said, there were many other animals in this park that we loved to watch and learn about.
I am generally conflicted in my opinions about animals in captivity, but I think Apenheul does a great job in giving the animals in their care the best possible life they could have outside of the wild. The presentations were very informative and you could tell that the keepers genuinely cared about the animals.
*Much appreciation to Colin McCann for letting me use his photos in this post. I didn’t have a camera on this trip and am glad to have such a talented husband who is rarely found without one.
Apenheul was a definite highlight of my visit to the Netherlands. I would love to go back and spend more time there ( I could probably spend a few hours with the Squirrel Monkeys, alone). With such a great transit system, a day-trip from Amsterdam to Apeldoorn is easy and well worth it. How could you resist this face?
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