Steve’s Pocket Monkey

Amarakaeri PeruWhen I was in Peru [1966], I had a little monkey [pygmy marmoset] that stayed in my pocket. It was given to Bob Tripp by some of the Amarakaeri Indians, who lived way, way out in the jungle. We were so deep in the jungle [near the border with Brazil] that they had never been out of their isolated area.

Wycliffe had a rule that if a translator went out to an isolated tribe, he couldn’t go out alone without a partner. I was working as a lab technician in Yarinacocha, but I went with him for a month or almost a month.

The monkey would sit in my pocket at night. We had only one light, like a kerosene lantern, though we had to pump it and it was fueled by gasoline, a Coleman. Thousands and thousands of moths would circle that light and the monkey would pop out of my pocket and snatch a moth out of the air and gobble it up.

Steve with Pocket Monkey in Peru, 1966I’d be teaching numbers to the young people of that group and I had a leash on him, going around his waist. I’d put him along the side of the wall, the vertical slats, of the classroom, so he could take care of his business.

The Indians would come by and reach into my pocket and squeeze him, just to tantalize him. He was cute as a button, but smart, like primates are. He would come to a call, like a dog. He’d sit in my pocket as we ate and occasionally I’d give him a bite and he’d snatch it and eat it right up.

I fell in love with that little monkey. I don’t remember what I named him or if I named him. I was going to bring the monkey home [to the United States] with me—I was going to try anyway—but I never got it back to Yarinacocha. One day the monkey was running across the floor and Bob wanted to stop it and he put his foot down to block it, but missed and finished off the monkey.

I had another monkey on the base at Yarinacocha that I tried to train, but I never was able to get him to obey me.

story told by Steve to Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), June 12, 2013

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Have I spelled Bob’s name correctly?
  • Do Lee or any of her children remember any more stories of either monkey?
  • Do you remember what kind of monkey the second one was? Does anyone have pictures of the second monkey with Steve?
  • Steve, do you have any other stories of the pocket monkey?
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2 thoughts on “Steve’s Pocket Monkey

  1. Pingback: Polly Prays Hard | Eight Duncans

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