Kyle Taitt’s closest companion is a tiny marmoset monkey named Bubba. The pair live together in Fort Collins, Colo., where Taitt is studying zoology and biology at Colorado State University, with plans to get a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology. Taitt, 23, who is a USDA-licensed animal exhibitor and operates his own animal research center, blogs about the natural world and its “nonhuman primates” at www.kyletaitt.scienceblog.com.
Q.What got you interested in nature and animals?
A.I was really different growing up. When other kids would be out at recess playing soccer, football or tag, I’d be climbing trees and taking notes about what the geese were doing. I was kind of an oddball, but I was just very interested in the natural world and felt a deep connection with the animals around me.
Q.What prompted you to start a blog?
A.I wanted to organize all the research and work I was doing about animal behavior, particularly my ongoing training of Bubba, a marmoset monkey I rescued from a breeding facility in Missouri. When I first got him, he was highly aggressive toward people, malnourished and psychologically distressed. But through countless hours of positive reinforcement training and lots of patience and love, he’s been transformed.
Q.Sounds like a lot of work. Does it cut into your social life?
A.It’s a full-time commitment. I don’t really have a social life. Every aspect of my life is planned entirely around the monkey. I take classes very early in the morning or late at night so when Bubba is awake he’s not alone. I don’t get to go on vacation or take time off. As soon as I’m done with classes, I go back home. But I love it. I get to study evolutionary biology and have a small simian primate sitting on my shoulder grooming through my hair.
Q.Has studying animal behavior and spending so much time with Bubba taught you anything about human behavior?
A.Absolutely. There’s such an astounding amount of overlap as far as what they experience on an emotional level and cognitive understanding. I’ve developed a deeper understanding of the connections between all animals, and how the brain works. Primates are far more complex than we give them credit for.