Did you hear about the monkeys who forgot how to climb and swing through the trees?

Near the center of the country, there is a Dutch zoo where the orangutans had been kept from the trees for so long that they could not remember how to do what orangutans naturally do. According to Reuters, The zoo had “renovated its orangutan enclosure to allow the long-limbed, hairy, auburn-colored primates to swing from tree to tree in an outdoor setting above the viewing public—but the animals appear to have lost the knack of it.”

So, that Dutch zoo has hired an Olympic gymnast, Epke Zonderland, hopes to re-teach the monkeys what they have forgotten. Zonderland told a radio reporter: “It is said that we can learn from apes how to climb, but this time they’ve asked me to get the apes back into the trees.”

Apparently, the monkeys are a “little afraid” of their new environment. Zonderland will “use a school playground-type installation” to climb and swing on, providing an example to the orangutans. Zonderland said: “I hope. . . they well be relaxed enough to copy me. I have no experience with apes. . . . Hopefully they will start swinging nicely from the trees.” (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block, editing by Paul Casciato, Copyright 2010 Reuters Life! Online Report)

Too long in a cage, and monkeys can forget how to swing through the trees. Too long in isolation and fear, and children can lose their freedom to run and play. Too long without laughter, and you can feel that joy is no longer possible. Too long without singing, and you will think there isn’t any music in you. Too long in the shadows, and you will be sure there isn’t any light.