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Interview with Proboscis Monkey

Updated on June 23, 2011

Interview with Proboscis Monkey

“#@^(*#)&!@(*$#!” That’s the message I heard as I clicked on Skype on my computer.

me – Who is this?

Voice – It’s me, Plato, the Proboscis Monkey, and I’m very upset.

me – Please stop cursing, Plato, and I will be happy to listen to you. What’s the problem?

Plato– I just read your Interview with Hippopotamus – I’m the one who told Hippolyte to look you up – and now I’m offended. You didn’t do that kind of interview with me. You wrote only a prosaic educational article about Proboscis monkeys in general - “Weird Animals – the Proboscis Monkey.” But you didn’t interview ME!

Note: Just in case you have been living on another planet and do not know, I have the unique supernatural ability to interview animals … and dead people. See “Why Everyone Should Own a Goat or a Cow or a Pig.”

Latest photo of me - Plato

Me and my ladyfriend with the upturned nose
Me and my ladyfriend with the upturned nose

me – I apologize if I have offended you, Plato, but I was not aware I possessed this exceptional, otherworldly skill when I first wrote that Weird Animal article. Can I make it up to you with an interview now?

Plato – Yeah, okay, that’s why I called. I want to give you some additional inside information and share some photos from my personal proboscis scrapbook.

me – That’s very kind of you. Fire away.

Plato – Fire away? How can I do that? Monkeys don’t shoot guns – only people do.

me – You got a point there, Plato.

Plato – That’s exactly the point I want to make. We are an endangered species because of people.


My dad, Socrates
My dad, Socrates
Follow the Leader. I'm the Leader.
Follow the Leader. I'm the Leader.


me – Proboscis monkeys are endangered?

Plato – That’s correct. We are social animals and have a tendency to gather in large groups along the river’s edge at dusk.

Like people at the end of the workday congregating in their favorite neighborhood bar. We just don’t have bar bites and two- for-one specials. (Chuckles like a monkey).

This makes us easy targets for hunters with guns who want our hides - literally. Also, large areas of our native rainforest have been cleared for timber and oil-palm plantations which are Malaysia’s top exports. So we have very few large protected areas because of deforestation.

me – Is that why I seldom see a proboscis monkey in a zoo?

Plato – If you want to see us in our natural habitat, you have to come to the coastal mangrove forests or the lowland rainforest near rivers in Borneo in southeast Asia. There are less than 6,000 of us in Borneo today.

Note: Borneo is the third largest island in the world located north of Australia and is shared by three countries: Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah), Indonesia (Kalimantan), and Brunei - at the northwest tip of the island.

Pedada trees in mangroves

My brother, Aristotle
My brother, Aristotle

Plato - Another reason you won't often find us in zoos - we live on a highly specialized diet.

me – Which is … ?

Plato – Mostly leaves. 95% of our diet comes from mangroves and pedada trees. We can only eat young leaves from local trees. We supplement this with seeds and dry fruits, sometimes flowers.

We have a complicated and unique digestive system which is divided into compartments similar to that of a cow.

Because of our leafy diet, the food has to ferment first in our stomach. Bacteria there digest the leaves and neutralize any toxins. That’s why we have such big pot bellies.


My son, Pluto
My son, Pluto
My daughter, Persephone
My daughter, Persephone

me – You do have a surprisingly sizable stomach, Plato. But I don’t think that is your most significant characteristic.

Plato – I know. You are referring to my nose. It is distinctive, doncha think?

me – It may be the largest nose (proboscis) I have ever seen on any animal except the elephant.

Plato – I am proud of my nose – it’s almost seven inches long.

me – Does it ever get in the way when you eat?

Plato – It does hang down over my mouth so I’ve learned to push it out of the way before I start chewing. When I become angry or excited, my nose swells, gets very red and stands out straight from my face. It’s also an alarm system. I make loud honking sounds with it when I sense danger.

Researchers speculate that our large noses also seem to attract the ladies - monkeys, that is. Take it from me, that is not speculation!

Infants have dark blue faces and hands

I'm the one on the right
I'm the one on the right

me – You are also one of the most colorful monkeys I have ever seen.

Plato – There’s an old proboscis saying: “God couldn’t make up her mind what color to make us.” We have red-brown fur on our back. Our chests and tail are cream-colored with a cream collar around our neck and waist.

Our arms and legs are gray with orange fur on our shoulders. We have a cap of dark red fur on our head, and our faces are flesh colored with brown eyes and dark black brows and foreheads.

Here’s one of my latest photos – me and the little woman. Her nickname for me is ‘Gerard.’

Gerard Depardieu
Gerard Depardieu
No caption necessary
No caption necessary

me – Because you resemble Gerard Depardieu, the rugged-looking, large-nosed French actor?

Plato – LOL. Yes, that's part of the story. The rest of the nickname is “Gerard the Hard.” I mentioned I would be sharing some personal information.

You may notice in this photo another bizarre feature of the proboscis monkey. The male sexual organ is always in the erect position. Hard to miss since it is bright red.

me – I noticed, of course, but thought it was because you were happy to see me . . . Just kidding. Bad joke.

Plato – Not to worry. I hear it all the time.

Probscis Belly Flop

Me doing the "monkey paddle"
Me doing the "monkey paddle"
Looking for crocs
Looking for crocs
Malaysian crocodile
Malaysian crocodile

me – I know that you have partially webbed feet – that must be a great help when you swim.

Plato – We are excellent swimmers and sometimes leap into the river with a dramatic belly flop.

But we are very careful when we swim in the rivers. Many of them are inhabited by large crocodiles. Wanna hear my favorite crocodile joke?

me - Do I have a choice?

Plato - A woman goes into a shoe store and asks, "Do you have any crocodile shoes?"

The salesperson says, "Yes, we do. What size does your crocodile wear?"

Stanley the Star Nosed Mole - front view

Star Nosed Mole

Plato – Could I ask a favor of you?

me – After that joke? . . . Of course; what is it?

Plato – Would you say hello to Stanley the Star Nosed Mole? He’s an Internet buddy of mine from across the pond. He says you have met him before.

Star Nosed Mole – Remember me?

me – Stanley, you have a face that is hard to forget.

Stanley – I just wanted to thank you for your advice.

me – Help me out, Stanley. Which advice was that?

Stanley – I had confided my shyness and difficulty communicating with other moles of the female persuasion. You said to forget about my bizarre looks. I think you used the word, atrocious – and to concentrate on improving my personality and sense of humor.

me – I remember. Did that work for you?

Stanley – I’ll say. I have several girlfriends now and the guys like to be with me, too – I’m kind of like the life of the party.

me – Wow, that’s wonderful. I’m delighted for you. How did that all come about?

Stanley – I nosed through (sorry!) a copy of an old joke book and committed several dozen to memory. This is one of my best. … This dyslexic mole walks into a bra . . .

me – Wait a minute, that’s a joke about a dyslexic guy.

Stanley – I know. How about this one? A mole walks into a bar with his buddy, a termite. The termite goes up to the bar and asks, “Is the bartender here?”

Me – OK, I give up. You do have a sense of humor. But those jokes are so old!

Stanley – It was an old joke book . . . remember?

me – It was a pleasure chatting with you, Stanley. And Plato, I am happy you contacted me. I will spread the word about the endangered status of proboscis monkeys.

Saya minta maaf kerana tidak mewawancarai anda. I do apologize for not interviewing you.

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So"

Readers say this book enabled them to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview professionally, and negotiate assertively. Includes a must-read chapter for older workers.


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