Which monkey is the most unusual in the whole world? Well, of all monkeys on our diverse planet, this one is certainly near the top of the list. Here, on this forgotten island off the coast of Madagascar, lives the mangolin curdmonkey. The curdmonkey can be identified easily by her orange-and-silver-striped fur, tall, pointed ears and prominent front teeth. Oh - and of course, her utility belt: a vine-woven belt with sockets to hold her cheeseworking tools.
That’s right. Cheeseworking tools. The curdmonkey is uniquely adapted to living with cheese in the wild. For, here on the exotic Fonduloupé Island, the cheese literally grows on trees.
My name is Hickory Slick. And welcome to Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with Hickory Slick.
Whether you’re a cheese-lover or not, this woodland is exciting to the senses. For starters, wonderful odours of cheese are everywhere. Get a whiff of the tangy Swiss cheese maple trees and their square, yellow leaves full of holes. Notice when the wind blows, the leaves make a gentle slapping noise which sounds like a round of applause. Ahh. Take note of the milky mozzarella cheese-stick vines running upward, draping from trunk to trunk. Look near your feet, and you’ll find funky-odoured Limburger mushrooms popping right up from the soil. The sights and the smells are undeniably breathtaking.
But the curdmonkey has fixed her sights on a more irresistible prize. Behold the island’s most precious growth: the lone, grand Goudawood tree. This tree, with its twisting, gnarled trunk and limbs, grows beautiful, red-coated wheels of thick gouda cheese. The goudas dangle heavily from their stems like enormous, flat apples. See how they twist and sway in the breeze!
Shhh. Look. It must be feeding time for her babies, as our curdmonkey friend is picking gouda now. To determine its ripeness, she gently knocks one of the large, red wheels with her forehead. Notice how the bulging brow of the curdmonkey seems tailor-made for this thumping job. Is the cheese ripe? No. That one won’t do. On to the next... She thumps again. Ah! She has found a winner!
See how carefully she cuts the stem at the precise angle? She is using a special pair of cheese clippers made from twigs. This ensures the healthy growth of the next gouda that blossoms. *SNIP* There goes the gouda - plummeting to the ground. The red rind protects the soft cheese inside from bruising. No one likes a bruised gouda.
After the curdmonkey climbs down from the tree, she will roll the thick, red cheese across the floor of the woodland towards her den. Once home, she will peel the rind and divide the gouda into morsels to feed her hungry babies.
But wait! Life on Fonduloupé is not as simple as it sounds. Something, or someone, also has their eye on that gouda.
Indeed. Meet the mangolin pigmouse. Standing at nearly half a metre tall, the grey-furred, pug-nosed creature crouches on his stout hind legs and waits. The pigmouse spends most of his day waiting because, sadly, his stout legs and arms are no good for climbing the slick, waxy bark of the Goudawood tree. So, his only chance at ever tasting his favourite food depends on grabbing the scraps left behind by the curdmonkey. Though pigmice have very useful corkscrew tails, they are also, unfortunately, a very clumsy species. It’s not uncommon to see these accident-prone creatures covered in plasters.
But today, this pigmouse’s fortunes are looking up. The leader of the pigmice is determined by who provides the group with the most food. And this pigmouse sees an opportunity to finally ‘bring home the cheese’. He locks his sights on the wheel of gouda and readies himself for the pounce by sitting back on his tightly-coiled tail. He concentrates. *SPROING!* The pigmouse flings forward through the air. But what’s this? The curdmonkey has now dropped to the ground and is quickly rolling the cheese away, just moments before the pigmouse can reach his prize.
The pigmouse watches the curdmonkey escape with the cheese down a hill beneath a large hedge of flaky parmesan. But he’s not about to give up! He pursues the monkey through a gap in the havarti hedgerow. Despite tripping over several cheddar roots, the pigmouse begins to gain on the curdmonkey.
But the monkey is clever. She has led him to an area where she will have an advantage: along the row of nacho trees. Twig-like taps stick out from the side of each tree’s thin, twisty trunk. Yes. It’s hard to imagine a more cunning defence. The pigmouse continues to spring and stumble forward, gaining on the cheese. He just manages to get his clumsy paw on the very tip of the monkey’s tail...
But the curdmonkey leaps high and flips on a nacho tap! Hot, spicy cheese gushes down! The pigmouse slips in the liquid cheese, spinning and tumbling head over heels, and lands flat on his backside right in the thick, savoury goo.
Our clever curdmonkey makes her graceful escape, gouda and all, down a hole and into her den at the base of a Swiss maple tree.
And there’s the Swiss maple’s round of applause for her, right on cue! A normal day in the life of a curdmonkey has ended and her babies are fed.
Face up in the thick nacho cheese, the pigmouse mutters, “Oh well. I’m kinda in the mood for leftover scraps tonight anyway.”
And that, my friends, is the end of today’s episode. This has been Hickory Slick. Tune in next time for Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with me, Hickory Slick.