With test preparations and long nights of studying, the Lunar New Year’s break seems like a distant memory. But the Year of the Monkey is now in full swing, and if you have any lai see left, visiting some of the cute monkey residents at Ocean Park may be just the break from studying you need.
A pocket-sized primate
We know you’ll go bananas for these adorable monkeys that can fit in the palm of your hand. The pygmy marmoset is the world’s smallest monkey, with a body only 12 to 15 centimetres long. Weighing only 124 grams on average, these itty bitty balls of fur are experts at climbing along thin branches in the rainforests of South America.
But while they might just look like cute, fuzzy ping pong balls, these teeny monkeys have a few amazing tricks up their sleeves. Since they’re so small, they make an easy lunch for predators. So that they can be on the lookout for anything big and hungry, they can turn their heads 180 degrees and can leap up to five metres high if they need to make a quick escape.
These little cuties are endangered though, mostly due to destruction of the rainforests they call home.
With their dark bodies and bright hands and feet, the red-handed tamarins look like they’re wearing little gloves and booties. The reddish-orange hair on their hands feet make their paws stand out brightly as they play in the trees and grab for food.
These funny monkeys have strong family values, and live in tight-knit family groups. The tamarins usually give birth to twins, but it’s the males of the family that take care of raising the babies. Fathers and brothers protect the babies and carry them on their backs – and teach them proper manners and respect.
The red-handed tamarins are neighbours of the pygmy marmosets in the South American rainforests, and just like the marmosets, they’re also endangered because their rainforest home is being destroyed.
The stars of Ocean Park’s monkey madness are of course the golden snub-nosed monkeys. With their thick golden fur, strange blue faces and weird little noses, these monkeys are considered one of China’s national treasures – but they are also highly endangered. Only 8,000 to 15,000 of them are left in the wild.
The golden monkeys at Ocean Park come from Chengdu Zoo. Two females – named Le Le and Hu Hu – were lent to Ocean Park in 2012, and a male named Qi Qi joined them last year with the hope of starting a breeding programme for these rare monkeys.
Sadly, tragedy struck just before the year of the monkey began. When Ocean Park handlers were trying to check on Hu Hu’s sore shoulder, she had a heart attack and died. The loss of Hu Hu was a blow to the park, and makes the remaining two monkeys even more valuable to the programme to help them rebuild their population.
You can still see Le Le and Qi Qi at the park, and pay your respects to Hu Hu.