World Cup: South Africa’s Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)
The World Cup started this past Friday, and I’m into it, partly because of this Nike commercial and partly because of this book (Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Anthony Appiah, which I enthusiastically recommend), which has me convinced of the importance of being a true citizen of the world. The international soccer/football tournament happens every four years, and this time, it’s in South Africa—the first time an African nation has hosted. Since I can’t go to South Africa, and I certainly can’t play soccer, what better way to participate than to draw one mammal from each of the 32 countries playing in the World Cup? I’ll be drawing them in the order their countries are playing, starting with our host, South Africa, and its representative, the vervet monkey.
The 32 teams of the World Cup are divided into eight groups, and they play a round-robin tournament after which the top two teams from each group advance to the round of 16. South Africa finds itself in a tough group, with former World Cup champions Uruguay and France, and Mexico, whose team isn’t bad, either. No host country has ever failed to advance to the second round of play—but South Africa, in its two previous World Cup appearances, didn’t get to round two, so this host-country winning streak could be a high-pressure curse.
On Friday, South Africa played Mexico. The game ended in a 1–1 draw, which wasn’t at all bad for South Africa, and the home team’s Sisphiwe Tshabalala scored the first goal of the tournament, a real beaut.
In our World Cup of Mammals, South Africa is represented by the vervet monkey, which lives in southern Africa’s savannas and forests in groups of a couple dozen. The vervet is also called the green monkey, and in Afrikaans, it’s the blou aap, or blue monkey, despite being yellowish-gray. Unfortunately, the old habitat squeeze has forced the vervet into the position of being a nuisance to humans in some places.
Coco drew the most adorably charming vervet monkey ever.