Primates celebrate Chinese New Year at Singapore's wildlife parks

The animals at Singapore's four wildlife parks are set to swing into the Year of the Monkey this Chinese New Year too.

The parks - Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park - have designed "enrichment activities" for the animals this festive period, including food stuffed in red packets for them to pry and take apart.

Guests can catch these animal antics from Feb 6 to 9.

At the Singapore Zoo, for instance, keepers have prepared carrots and mealworms in red packets that are hung on the branches in the habitat for the primates such as the tamarins and the Javan langur. The squirrel monkeys at River Safari get peanuts and walnuts in their red packets.

The CNY activities will take place once a day at different timings so that the animals "do not get used to them and start to anticipate the treats", Wildlife Reserves Singapore said at a media preview of the parks' activities on Wednesday (Jan 27).

Mr Lua Boon Kong, 29, junior animal management officer at Singapore Zoo, said: "You can see the tamarins smelling and investigating the hong baos (red packets) with the food inside. They will be perching on the branch, which is an important skill for balance. Sometimes they will be hanging upside down while investigating the item, and this is all part of their natural behaviour."

Ms Lim Wei Qian, 27, senior education executive at Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "Enrichment activities are meant to stimulate the animals both mentally and physically.

"In the parks, there are not many incentives for these wild animals to forage around. Enrichment activities will prompt them to go around, explore and use the abilities that they would also use in the wild."

This article was first published on Jan 27, 2016.
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