This is a picture of a monkey that has never been photographed before. Ever.


It was taken by primatologist Lieven Devreese, who, together with his colleague Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo, were the first to definitively document the existence of Bouvier's red colobus.


Which is pretty ridiculously cool.

I spoke with Devreese via email and congratulated him on finally discovering the elusive red colobus.

He quickly and humbly corrected me.

"It is one of the 17 species of red colobus, but probably the most neglected one. Some conservationists considered that the species might have been extinct. So that's why I wanted to look for them."

Devreese and Gobolo traveled to the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa in February 2015 to conduct the search.

You know. Just two guys. Looking for a monkey that might or might not exist.

Once on the ground, they met up with local guides who took them into swamp forests along the Bokiba River in the Ntokou-Pikounda National Park, where the monkey was rumored to live.

Swamp forests: pretty much what you'd expect.

"From the start it was clear that the local people know them," Devreese said, "But because of the swampy terrain and because of hunting, it was not easy to find them in the forest."

They searched for five days. On the last day of the expedition, Devreese was preparing to pack up when several members of the team reported that they had spotted a small group of monkeys up in the trees. The group walked for an hour until they heard a promising sound. So they crept closer...

...and boom!



Monkeys.

Since no one had ever really even seen Bouvier's red colobus before, its decline is a bit of a mystery. Some of it, undoubtedly, is due to good ol' habitat destruction and humans being jerks more generally. But according to Devreese, much of the reason the species is disappearing comes down to one word ... that is made up of two words:

Bushmeat.

This is a steak. But imagine a monkey steak.

Turns out, people eat these monkeys.

It's an extraordinarily tricky issue. On the one hand, many contend that hunting local wildlife, including primates, is tradition that stretches back many hundreds of years in some Central African communities, and outsiders should, respectfully, butt the heck out.

"As people from the western world I don't think it is appropriate to prohibit the local small-scale hunting which the people living there have been doing for centuries."

On the other hand, some conservationists argue that bushmeat hunting destroys ecosystems and drives already-threatened species to extinction.

They're not mutually exclusive arguments by any means. But Devreese takes a longer view.

"As people from the western world I don't think it is appropriate to prohibit the local small-scale hunting which the people living there have been doing for centuries," Devreese explained to me. "Hunting is really part of their culture and they depend on the forest for their animal protein intake. But [in the past few decades,] the scale of this hunting has changed. It has become a commercial trade, so now people shoot as much as they can to make money."

And it gets even more complicated. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the primary reason some members of Central and West African communities hunt bushmeat is food insecurity.

It's a two-pronged problem that needs to be addressed two-prongedly.

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo — a hub of the commercial bushmeat trade.

Helping poachers find alternate sources of income is absolutely crucial to limiting the production of commercial bushmeat. And educating potential consumers about the health risks of eating improperly prepared primate meat (HIV and Ebola are transmitted this way), could lead to a decrease in demand.

Hunting bushmeat for cultural reasons shouldn't be outlawed. And some folks in Central Africa eat bushmeat because they have to, you know, eat. But getting clean water and alternate, sustainable food sources to them could help cut down on hunting.

It's not going to be super easy to make all that happen overnight. But hey. Why not try?

The monkeys would really appreciate it.

Keep on rocking, critically endangered monkeys. You do you.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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