Sara Morris Swetcharnik

El General

By Sara Morris Swetcharnik

I spend most of the day working on a portrait of the spider monkey named El General. He is a favorite of the zoo employees. I often see the guards stopping to talk to him or scratch his neck. When I stop by his cage he likes to take off my shoes and gives me a foot massage.

My previous attempts at sculpting El General had not turned out as well as I would have liked. Finally I am pleased with this version. As I am finishing it, suddenly the monkey reaches out of his cage and grabs at my sculpture. It is almost out of reach, but he is able to knock it to the ground, completely ruining it. El General screams at me: I scream back at him.

The guard runs over to see what is upsetting us. El General is now cowering in the corner of his cage shaking his head no every time I point my finger at him shouting, "Malo, malo -- bad monkey!" The guard points at El General and starts laughing. The monkey covers his face in utter humiliation.