The Hairpin is pleased to present an interview with Ozzie, the lion-tailed macaque featured in Monday's New York Times piece on breeding phaseouts at American zoos.
Us: Hi, Ozzie. Dumb question: you're some kind of monkey, right? Because the piece opened with some random line about lemurs, but then it was more about you, and we can never remember if macaques are monkeys or birds or what. I mean, you're obviously not a bird, because we're looking at you.
Ozzie: Yes, that's correct, we're monkeys. I found it confusing as well. And kind of a dick move, honestly, like "Bonner and Etienne, the lemurs, have this little 1950s family unit thing going on, now let's go look at the sad-sack macaques." What they don't even bother to mention, right, is that I'm gay.
Us: Oh! Oh, okay. But, obviously...
Ozzie: No, right, that doesn't mean I was never going to have a family. I've kicked the idea around, of course. But I've always been on the fence about it. I have a lot of other things in my life. I love to cook, I love to travel, I love to be selfish!
Us: It's not selfish to not have kids.
Ozzie: I agree! But you know what I mean. I just, I see the other macaques who've made different decisions, and nothing seems to be about THEM anymore, it's all about their baby macaques. I've always needed time to just go into the back of my enclosure where people can't point at me, and just...unwind. I like kids, but I've never been sure if I want one of them clinging to my fur 24/7. Not to mention that I'd need to put more thought into it. The lemurs can just pop that shit out, but I'd have to get into this whole thing with turkey basters and drama, and all of your female friends SAY stuff like, oh, totally, if I'm still single when I'm blah blah, but it just never works out.
Us: Did you ever...
Ozzie: ...and I always thought that if I did it, I'd want to have a partner, first. Like, we'd do it together. But there aren't a ton of gay macaques at this zoo, I mean, St. Louis is not a great scene for gay macaques in general, and most of them are still in that party scene, which I am too, to be honest!
Us: Either way, though, it has to be hard to have the decision made FOR YOU, right?
Ozzie: Totally. That's the part I'm struggling with. Don't let anyone tell you it's not about money. Look at all the resources they throw at the pandas. They're making erotic mixtapes for the tigers! But, apparently, divorced dads aren't getting nagged by their kids to take them to the zoo to see the lion-tailed macaques. Whatever, I don't want to sound bitter. Seriously, though, did you catch the bit about the $18 million they're dropping on the new pool? The squeaky sea lions get the grease, if you know what I mean.
Us: How often does it come up, for you, the mixed feelings?
Ozzie: It bothers me at the weirdest times. Like, I hadn't thought about it in weeks, right, and then I was watching Game of Thrones, and I'm listening to Jon Snow take his oath, and he gets to that line...oh, God, I would tear up if macaques had eyes that functioned that way... "father no children," and I just...it's heavy, you know? That's me. I'm going to father no children.
Us: Hey, really, thanks for talking to us, Ozzie. Good luck to you.
Ozzie: Did you, um, did you get any pellets from the little machine on your way in?