Monkey Business

By Jack Brezina/contributing writer

Readers will recall that I make a point of not discussing personal issues, especially those related to health matters in this space, so this exception then proves the rule. I can relate this now, as significant time has passed and I have just completed a four injection regimen and consider myself to be rabies-free. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In early March, we had the pleasure of travelling to Victoria Falls to meet our in-laws and, of course, take in the sights. First on that list was a visit to the falls itself, and that is where the vicious attack occurred.

The falls is bisected by the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, but by far the best viewing of this thundering cascade is from Zim. A national park, with a trail, follows the edge of the canyon on the Zimbabwe side of the river, allowing for a number of spectacular viewing stations along the way.

I was travelling with a large group and we had just left the statue of Doctor David Livingstone, who looks somewhat forlornly out at the Devil’s Cataract, the start of a series of individual falls that stretch for 1.7 kilometres (just shy of a mile) and make up this spectacular natural wonder of the world.


The next station was the chain walk which descends partway into the 108-metre gorge. After the exertion of not only going down the steps, but also returning to the trail above, I sought the solace of a convenient bench to rest my tired legs. Little did I realize the twist of fate that awaited me.

My companions had walked on and I was momentarily defenseless and a sitting duck. It was as I stood to take yet another photo of the tumbling cascade, that I was assaulted. A vervet monkey, (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), taking advantage of my diverted attention, swung down from the trees and, placing his hands on my, (for the more delicate among you, I will not use the word bum and any other three letter common terms), gluteus maximus and gave me a shove.

Though shocked by this brutal and unprovoked attack, I was able to maintain my composure as the simian scampered over to a nearby trash can, where it perched, perhaps planning a second assault. Knowing I was within earshot of Dr. Livingstone, I was able to restrain myself, but I severely chastised the vervet and threatened legal action or worse. The monkey eyed me with what I was sure was contrition or perhaps derision and, before I could secure his name and license number, he scampered off into the undergrowth.

I rejoined my party and explained what had just happened, much to their chagrin … a state that would continue for the remainder of our stay. We slipped into the bushes where my wife examined the site of the violation and declared there was indeed a scratch on my right cheek. Ever resourceful, especially in this day and age, she extracted alcohol infused wipes followed by liquid hand sanitizer and I cleansed the offended area.

Needless to say the tragic incident quickly became the talk of the group and, though I was still recovering from the attack, I became what can only be described as the butt of jokes for the rest of the day and week. The juvenile humour continued back at our accommodation and into the evening as a doctor had been called. He arrived with a nurse, a pharmacist and three staff members from the resort, all wanting to see the guy apparently everyone was talking about. The doctor examined the wound, declared it properly attended to and that I was likely to survive. He injected the first of four anti-rabies shots and handed me a course of antibiotics.

I am pleased to report the good news: the final of four anti-rabies vaccines was administered Monday at the Minden Hospital and I am well on my way to a complete recovery. My butt has healed. But, and this is a big but, I fear I will continue to be the butt of monkey memes for some time to come. And that is how I spent my March break

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