This monkey has never been photographed before. Until now.

They proved lots of people wrong.

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.

Heroes

Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

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via SNL / YouTube

Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

He's played memorable roles in "Annie Hall," "Pulp Fiction," "Wedding Crashers," "Batman Returns," and countless other films. He's also starred in Shakespeare on the stage and began his career as a dancer.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

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