National Geographic : 1953 Jul
Doi Sutep, showing darkly in the northwest. She seemed under a spell, as if her long-drawn, far-carry ing "whoo-ee-e" were involuntary on her part, a heritage she had re ceived from her tribe under the pin nacles of Chiang Dao, an instinctive expression of the dark wonder and the richness of the jungle. It was then that the children de cided that our pet should be free; they had often discussed her future. Twice we had offered her freedom, but she would have none of it. On these occasions we were vaca tioning on the mile-high mountain of Doi Sutep, in whose wooded ra vines leopards prowled and wild gibbons whooped. On our first trip Roberta was carried in a wicker chair by four men who slowly picked their way over rocks and fallen trees, through narrow defiles over hung with bushes, and up steep ridges. Perhaps Bimbo would prefer riding on the arm of her chair to sitting caged in a basket? Roberta seated her on the chair arm and held the 10-foot chain. It didn't work. The toiling car riers excited the gibbon, and the low-hanging vines and bamboo clumps enticed her. Progress was made only by pulling her forcibly from one branch after another. Re luctantly we put her into a basket carried at the end of a pole. A Bird's-eye View of Opium Runners and Mahouts Arriving at the mountain cottage, we immediately selected an adjacent tree for Bimbo's home. Casting about for a rain shelter, we found a discarded box and put it up in the tree, nine feet from the ground. Thereafter Bimbo spent many happy hours leaning on one elbow while she gazed out of the window cut in the side of the box and whoo whooed to passing opium runners or mahouts taking work elephants to cooler pastures. As a pastime she hunted insects among the tree leaves: white spiders, red ants, and various kinds of walk ing sticks camouflaged to match their background-practically in visible to us but not to her. Daily we turned her loose, hop ing she would join the wild gibbons that called from the near-by jungle, 71 rnes r. ~ amKer "Look How She's Grown!" Exclaims Roberta During the 15-month separation between Roberta and Bimbo, the ape reached maturity (attained when 5 years old). As a youngster she had declined to play with an adult male gibbon, choosing instead a female of her own age.