I am swinging back to my Bohol series.
For the longest time I’ve imagined meeting the souvenir keychain tarsier in flesh. And yes, if you can imagine it, it can happen.
I could have met the tarsiers earlier had I joined my colleagues in their Bohol side trip instead of staying in Cebu that one weekend in 2004. In one of my previous jobs, the travel opportunity was generous that made me complacent that I can set foot in Bohol whenever I want. But I had always deferred the visit until I went overseas and found myself envying those who have experienced the beauty of Bohol. Thanks to a good friend who held his wedding there last year. I had a more compelling reason to visit.
The tarsiers we saw up close were those in Loboc which is a tourist trail as you visit the Chocolate Hills or dine in the floating restaurant. Since they are considered endangered, the government of Bohol granted special permits only to few selected residents to showcase tarsiers. In particular, we went in to Kanipa an Kingdom which has four to five captive tarsiers on display. There was no entrance fee and I noticed that there was no donation box as well. I’m not sure if the other residents-hosts have the same practice. However, souvenir items are abundant. I presume that part of the proceeds helps fund the maintenance of the well-being of the tarsiers. Other pets on display were birds, species of lizards, tortoises and Philippine macaue.
Tiny, can be physically scary, or as comically tagged “freaky cute” (that they are now part of the existing Php 200 bill)… but hey, they are THE tarsiers! Together with the other visitors, we lined up to have our photos and videos taken with them. Everyone competed for their attention, but it seemed like they were asleep that early afternoon. Of course, they are known to be nocturnal. There were times that they moved their heads, resembling the rotating ability of the owls. As we posed with them, the visitors’ infamous look and strategy was to mimic their wide awake big eyes. No matter how tempted we were, we did not touch them since it is not allowed. There were reports that they have suicidal tendencies when they are put under pressure. However, I noticed that one of the residents-caretakers touched the heavier sleeper so that it will move its head in time for the visitor’s photo taking. That was when he got really squeaky (and see those teeth!) as shown in the photo above.
If you have enough time, you might want to visit the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary which is in Barangay Canapnapan, Corella, Bohol. With at least 100 tarsiers to see in their natural habitat, I think that the extra kilometers trip would be worth it.