TO HONOR "EARTH DAY," WE ARE GOING TO SEE DISNEY'S NEW FILM "MONKEY KINGDOM" WHICH WAS FILMED IN SRI LANKA. DISNEY IS DONATING A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THE EARTH DAY SHOWING TO HELP SAVE THE ENDANGERED TOQUE MACAQUES. This week's place learning is about Sri Lanka and its Toque Macaques.
Day 1: The stunning location seen
in Disneynature MONKEY
KINGDOM is the island country
of Sri Lanka. This small country
located in the Indian Ocean, just off
the southern tip of India in South
Asia. It is similar in size to the state of West
Virginia and slightly smaller than
the country of Ireland. Sri Lanka is known for its
expansive coastline, 2,000-year-old temples, beautiful forests,
15 national parks and 500,000 acres of tea plantations
Deep in the heart of Sri Lanka is the Cultural Triangle. This culturally rich area is located in the central part of the country and encompasses numerous United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites. These sites include the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the rock fortress of Sigiriya and the Dambulla temple cave.
Video about Sigiriya
DAY 2: Over 1,000 years ago, the city of Polonnaruwa was a fabulous
garden capital for the people of Sri Lanka. After building a lake
to ensure people had a bountiful water source, the expansive
grounds were constructed to include palaces, temples and
Buddhist shrines. The city of Polonnaruwa would thrive for
150 years before falling due to political strife and conflict.
Today, the ruins of Polonnaruwa have been designated a World Heritage Site. Moonstone carvings are some of the unique ornamentations found in the ruins. Moonstones are chiseled semi-circled slabs of rock that were often placed at the base of a staircase leading to a shrine.
These moonstones were decorated with designs of animals, often a horse or an elephant, surrounded by a row of floral patterns. These intricately crafted moonstones are considered by many scholars to be one of the highest achievements in Sri Lankan artistry. Having been abandoned for centuries, the site of this former great city is now a historical testament to the early rulers of the kingdom and a forest playground for toque macaques. Polonnaruwa’s beautiful temples and palaces are an interesting place for the monkeys to explore with many hiding places and observation decks giving the monkeys a new perspective of their forest home
DAY 3: Within the ruins, toque macaques must find a safe place to
rest and serve as their home. The fig tree or Indian banyan
tree seen in Disneynature MONKEY KINGDOM is an
excellent choice for these agile monkeys. Growing up to
100 feet tall, these trees are strong and secure.
Their strong root systems extend several feet from
the base of the tree making them one of the most resistant
trees in the forest. Even the changing wet and dry seasons don’t bother the banyan tree
because it is drought tolerant.
Strong limbs make great
beds or chairs, perfect for
resting or engaging in social
grooming. Figs make the
best lunch and the evergreen
leaves protect the monkeys
from the rain and sun.
With the banyan tree being
a great home for many birds and mammals, the toque
macaques end up sharing space with their forest neighbors.
DAY 4: Sri Lanka's climate has distinctive wet and dry
seasons, but as warming temperatures continue to increase
around the globe, seasons have become more severe. The
wet, rainy season takes place from December through March
in the northeast region of the island and June through
October in the southwest region. This wet season is
important as it provides water, vital not only for the toque
macaques, but for all plants and animals in the tropical forest.
Dry seasons alternate with wet seasons in each region, and
during these times water becomes more challenging to find.
During the day when the monkeys are most active, they spend a lot of time on the ground looking for food. However, a favorite spot for the toque macaques can be found high above the temples in the treetops of the forest canopy. These leafy houses provide safety from predators, as well as shelter from nature’s elements. Fruit trees, such as the banyan tree, are not only a safe haven but also provide a delicious food source. Safety is the number one priority in the lives of these monkeys. Before nightfall, toque macaques pick the closest tree to rest in and sleep. Although the troop may return to a favorite tree in their home range, they rarely sleep in the same tree two nights in a row as a precaution
from catching parasitics left
behind on a branch surface
from the night before. Once
a tree is selected, the troop
members will then find
positions on branches away
from the trunk. When it’s
time to sleep, families will
huddle together, like one
big blanket, for warmth and
DAY 5: Though fruit makes up a large part of their
diet, toque macaques are omnivores. They
eat plants, insects, and sometimes reptiles
and birds when they are easy to catch. Toque
macaques maintain a cautious approach as
they forage in the forest, nervously looking
around and eyeing their surroundings for
predators or rival neighboring groups of
monkeys. A unique adaptation of the toque macaque
that helps with foraging is their cheek pouches. Much like
a grocery bag, these pouches can hold food items that
macaques find as they shop around the forest. This allows
them to easily carry their food with them if they need
to make a quick escape from a predator or even a more
dominant monkey. Watering holes are visited daily during
the dry season for a nice refreshing drink. These watering
holes can be near ponds, lakes or rivers. Toque macaques
are excellent swimmers. Swimming provides an expanded
foraging territory for toque macaques looking for resources.
They aren’t picky eaters, and they will eat what they can get to survive. If their habitat is on the edge of a nearby town, they won’t hesitate to raid a garbage bin or pick up fallen fruit from a truck or backpacker traveling near their forest. Toque macaques are brave and curious and most of the time they do not appear to be afraid of people due to their close interactions with tourists at popular sites in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.
Weiner Elementary School, 313 N. Garfield St., Weiner, AR 72479 870-684-2252(o) 870-684-2684(f)