The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Friday, June 12, 2009

3 Rare Monkeys Now, Not Going to Zoo

LOS ANGELES (Map, News) - The city spent more than $7 million to build a home for a trio of rare golden snub-nosed monkeys that China promised to lend the Los Angeles Zoo.

Now the Chinese government has taken the monkeys off the table, leaving the zoo with an empty China-themed primate enclosure - perhaps the nation's only monkey lair approved by a feng shui expert.

Zoo officials are seeking a suitable stand-in simian to take the place of the golden monkeys, known for their blue-faces and blond-hair.

"Within 60 days, some lucky monkey will have a home there," City Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the zoo, said Thursday.

Zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said negotiations with Chinese officials broke down several weeks ago, but he did not know why.

The Chinese official that had signed the agreement granting Los Angeles the monkeys has since left his position, he said.

An e-mail seeking comment from the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles was returned as undeliverable. The Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association, which was to oversee the animal loan, did not answer a call seeking comment before business hours in Beijing.

Chinese officials had offered a 10-year-lease for the monkeys to former Mayor James Hahn during a visit to China in 2002.

Hahn had originally sought to lease pandas for the zoo, but Chinese officials refused, said David Towne, president of the Giant Panda Conservation Foundation, which helped broker the failed monkey loan.

Four zoos in the United States already had pandas, so China told Hahn it would be unfair to other countries wanting the bears if the United States got more, Towne said.

"They use the pandas as somewhat of a diplomatic and political tool as a reward for supporting Chinese policies," he said.

The city agreed to pay the Chinese government $100,000 a year for the monkeys that were offered instead of pandas. Officials voted in 2006 to build the enclosure designed to look like a rural Chinese village.

The enclosure, which has artificial trees with extra springy limbs, canary island palm trees and a viewing structure with Chinese-style tilework, was finished in 2008.

A feng shui expert hired for $4,500 - part of the total $7.4 million price tag - tweaked the final design with a water fountain and other features meant to promote the monkeys' health and happiness.

Zoo officials are now consulting with their colleagues at other zoos to obtain native Chinese monkey species that will fit in with the surroundings.

"Of course we're disappointed we didn't get the golden monkeys, but the end result is we have a gorgeous new habitat, which is fully capable of housing any other variety of Asian primate," Jacobs said.

Other cities' zoos have featured golden monkeys in the past, but all have since returned to China.

Many zoos also have crocodiles and birds from China, but they don't carry the same cachet as primates or pandas, Towne said.

"Most, other than pandas and golden monkeys, are not what I would call the megavertabrates: the big, fancy high-profile animals," he said."


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