Going ape!

Hey Rose,

Loved your last post – thanks for the encouragement – do you think everyone in Internet Davidtland now knows about my tiny crush on the Tenth Doctor aka David Tennant? There he is, over there –> Sigh!

Have had a new boost of productivity this week thanks to children’s author Sally Odgers. Remember when we listened to the talking books of Jack Russell dog detective? And we loved them? Well, she wrote them (with her hubby Darryl) and she also does Affordable Manuscript Assessments (my kind of assessment). So, I sent off for my very first assessment on my junior novel The Great Ape Escape. She had some great suggestions about tense and story logic and I have been revising with renewed enthusiasm.

And that reminds me, I don’t think I’ve told you everything about my behind-the-scenes visit to the orang-utan enclosure at the zoo. Probably the most exciting bit was ‘meeting’ Santan, a 38-year-old male. This is him here…

Santan the orangutan

Santan the orangutan

He was huge and had the black flanged cheeks which marks him as a dominant male. The keeper opened up this metal door like a bank vault so we could ‘chat to him’ through the wire fence. He seemed placid enough. Keeper Donna showed us how she had trained him to hold up an arm for an injection, open his mouth for inspection and even let her brush his teeth. It was kind of a she brushes one tooth (through the fence), he gets a cashew nut, she brushes another tooth, etc.


The funny thing about Santan is – like me – he’s gluten intolerant. I resisted asking if this makes him fart a lot 🙂 I asked how they found out and apparently it was the trusty elimination diet. They discovered that pasta gives him diarrhoea and now he still gets pasta as an occasional treat but it’s gluten-free.

I also got to throw cardboard rolls full of popcorn into mum, Maimunah and daughter Dewi’s enclosure. I kind of had this idea that the keepers would be buddies with the smaller orang-utans, holding hands and that sort of thing – but to preserve their ‘wildness’ they try to minimise physical contact with humans.

Two other cool things I learnt – the keepers film the orang-utans with their I-pads and then let them look at themselves on the screen – some of them love this! They also occasionally show them movies, their favourite is Happy Feet.

Love you,


PS. Congrats on winning your first footy match!


About Heather Gallagher

Heather lives in Ocean Grove with her beautiful family and a dog called Pip. She has a passion for quirky stories. Her first book, Ferret on the Loose, was published in 2013 and was recently listed on the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge. The book was inspired by a girl and her ferret, who Heather interviewed while working as a freelance journalist for The Sunday Age. Her column, Yak Attack, ran in the Kids View section for more than a year and allowed Heather to profile people she thought would be of interest to kids. In 2014, she released her first picture book Happy Pants – Why is mummy so sad? This is NOT a story about ferret racing. Rather, it is a heartfelt story about a boy grappling with his Mum’s post-natal depression. Heather’s stories for children have appeared in black dog books Short & Scary anthology and Explore and Challenge magazines. Heather has experience in public speaking – both for children and adults. While, promoting Happy Pants she spoke to groups of counsellors, nurses, parents and at library events. She has presented writing workshops to primary-aged children. Last year, she was a presenter at the Sacred Edge festival and the Christian Writers’ Conference.
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