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Wildlife park stirs controversy by dyeing its monkeys
( 2004-01-22 14:09) (Xinhua)

Brown is no longer the most common colour for monkeys in China. A safari park in northeast China's Liaoning Province dyed all its monkeys different colours, such as bright red and golden yellow, to welcome the year of monkey in the Chinese lunar new year, which falls on January 22.

A staff member from the Forest Safari Park of Shenyang, capital city of Liaoning, said that it was no easy job to dye monkeys, for they were not "co-operative".

"We had to anaesthetize them first", he said. "They seemed to be surprised at their new strange coats when they woke up. But after a while, they indulged themselves in pleasure."

However, the practice stirred controversy from all circles.

Zhu Chengwei, director of the Shenyang Wild Animal Protection Organization, proposed that scientific testing should be carried out first to see whether the practice was harmful.

"If it is proved to be maltreating or bullying wild animals, then we will take necessary actions to protect them," Zhu said.

Professor Liu Mingyu, a zoologist from the Environment and Life Sciences School of the Liaoning University, said that it was the first time he had seen dyed monkeys, and that whether it would hurt monkeys or not depended on the chemical components in the cream used to treat them.

"As for whether it will hurt their minds, we can observe their reaction after being dyed," Liu said. "Generally speaking, monkeys will jump up and down when they feel excited, but will be in low spirits when they feel upset."

A beauty salon manager surnamed Li said that the cream used to dye the monkeys was chemical products, so it would certainly hurt monkeys' body, whether it was eaten or not.

A chemical engineer held the same view. He said the dye would usually have a negative effect on animals' skin, and monkeys were no exception.

An advertisement firm designer in Shengyang said that dyeing monkeys was "rather original in concept". In addition, the year ofthe monkey is drawing near, "colored monkeys" not only made the park more lively and increased the park's revenue, but also brought more fun for tourists.

Song Yanzhu, deputy director of the Wild Animal Supervision Department of the park, said they had selected the best cream for monkeys, and no lead or other harmful material was used. But Song did not name the type of dye used.

"Monkeys have no habit of licking their skin, so they will not mistakenly eat the cream," Song said. "From their reaction after being dyed, they showed no excitement or extraordinarily abnormal emotion."

Xu Dianju, president of the park's Wild Animal Hospital, said that they not only dyed their monkeys, but also dyed the wild horses with colored strips, making them look like zebras.

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