Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Zoo sad to bid goodbye to its lion-tailed macaques

Rules mean monkeys off to other facilities

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There will be no more lion-tailed monkeying around at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The playful lip-smacking and hollering group of lion-tailed macaques was a highlight of Winnipeg's zoo for many years.

Now they're no longer on display and the last four of the 11 will soon be sent to a facility in China and one in Canada. "They seemed to be very popular. They were very active, a lot of fun so it is difficult to say goodbye," said Gary Lunsford, the zoo's general curator. The zoo is transferring the species partly because its primate building wasn't up to code.

Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums recommended it make changes to the primate building. Lunsford doesn't know exactly what recommendations were made but guesses it had to do with peeling paint and too little space. "More indoor space would have been great," he said.

"It's not that the building was in bad shape, we just had to make a decision about what species to have in that building."

The zoo also made the decision to transfer the monkeys because the Association of Zoos and Aquariums changed its rules for holding macaques. If Assiniboine Park Zoo wanted to keep the monkeys, it would have to apply to the association and either renovate the primate building or change the animals held inside. "It was at a point where we were deciding whether or not we wanted to continue with the species," Lunsford said.

The zoo ultimately decided not to. Instead, the zoo turned the primate building into a red panda breeding centre, partly because it cost less.

The zoo was known for its lion-tailed macaque breeding program, but that ended when the monkeys were taken off exhibit in 2012.

The other primates are still on display in the Toucan Ridge building.

danelle.cloutier@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 15, 2014 A2

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