An American Abroad

The Gray Langurs of Anuradhapura

I was wandering around a park near a Buddhist temple in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Suddenly I sensed I was being watched. I looked around and saw nothing. Then I looked up.

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The first thought to crackle across my synapses was something like, “He must have escaped from a zoo; I need to tell someone!” Such is the reaction of a man who has rarely seen animals in the wild, especially without expecting to do so. I looked around and saw more, including this sweet little family. I almost missed the baby the first time I looked.

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They casually watched me apparent unconcern. Slowly I realized: this is real.

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Later I realized I had no idea what I had just seen. I posted a query to my Facebook friends, and crack researcher Lori Seubert ID’s them as gray langurs from an article on “Diurnal Primates of Sriu Lanka.” Apparently, they are an endangered species.

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I was glad to have met these distant relatives of mine. It still fills me with a sense of amazement. But my own amazement saddens me a little too. It just shows how removed from the natural world I am.

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