Reflections about Theo the macaque
Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?
Java macaque Theo thinks he is.
We couldn’t agree more. Actually, we think all of the animals at Primarily Primates are magnificent.
Theo found sanctuary at PPI in 2010 after being released from a New Jersey firm that tested substances for toxicity went out of business. PPI actually welcomed 24 other male macaques along with Theo; they arrived wearing the restraint chair collars that confined them for four to six years as they were kept in place for experiments.
While some of the macaques immediately started playing in the hay with their toys in awe of their new outdoor surroundings and the ability to interact without bars separating them, Theo sat in his holding structure unwilling to come out. But his roommate at the time, Buzzbee, walked in, gave Theo a hug, and after a few minutes, Theo took his first steps into his new habitat, free to choose how he would spend his time.
Interestingly, recent studies have shown that macaques can learn how mirrors work, and thus learn to recognize themselves. Great apes, dolphins, Asian elephants, and Eurasian magpies can also do this—as can human kids around age two.