Endangered monkeys make move to Ocean Park

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 12:00am


With their blue faces and little snub-noses, two golden monkeys are the latest example of China's endangered wildlife to greet visitors to Ocean Park.

The pair moved in next to giant pandas An An and Jia Jia at the park's new Sichuan Treasures exhibit, which opened yesterday.

The park spent at least HK$10 million on renovating the former panda habitat to serve as home to two-year-old Hu Hu and three-year-old Le Le, who were born and bred at a zoo in Chengdu .

'We're one of the first parks to have golden monkeys,' Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman said. 'It's an experiment by Chengdu to loan these monkeys to Hong Kong. They'll be watching the acceptance of the people and how they react to the broader conservation message.'

The drive to bring the monkeys to Hong Kong was led by Jiang Chu, deputy director general of Sichuan's forestry department, who hopes the people of the city will be inspired to work to protect the monkeys.

Found around the edges of the Sichuan Basin in Sichuan, Gansu, Hubei and Shaanxi provinces, golden monkeys are being squeezed by logging, human settlement and hunters after their meat, bones and fur.

Like the giant panda they are listed as endangered. The Primate Research Centre at the University of Wisconsin estimates just 8,000 to 20,000 monkeys remain in the wild.

The central government declared the species a national treasure and this year allocated 30 million yuan (HK$36.6 million) to the Shennongjia golden monkey centre in Hubei, Xinhua reported.

The monkeys will be on loan to the park for three years, joining a growing number of Chinese animals, including red pandas, alligators, giant salamanders and sturgeon.

Zeman says the longevity of the older panda, Jia Jia, is testament to the skill of park staff. At 34, Jia Jia is now the oldest panda in captivity.

The monkeys can live for more than 23 years under human care.

The Jockey Club has pledged HK$5 million over the next three years for conservation education at the park for 30,000 poor children.