Christine liked working with the primates, but found it saddening and in some inexplicable way, desolate. The Red Monkeys, with their ever-escalating plaintive call, sounded to her like a deepening emergency that was being ignored by the authorities. When the Howler Monkeys ganged-up together, they sounded industrial, like a repeating punch press stamping out license plates in cold metal. Down the hill, where the smaller primates were caged, the little cheeps of the tiny marmosets, sounded like mockingbirds at dawn, and the Patas monkeys sounded like a rhythmic yawn of a wah wah pedal on a Stratocaster.
At home, after work, she would reflect on her day, and imagine herself, not an employee of the San Diego zoo, but a woman who had spent the day at a concert, where the prison orchestra had involuntarily played for the oblivious guards. The monkeys’ caged music, she now realized, was uncontainable even by the strongest of metal bars.