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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Celebrating Monkeys

Celebrating Monkeys


Curious young monkey (credit: Twitter)


Two decades ago, an art student at Michigan State University marked Monkey Day as a prank on his friend’s calendar. When the day arrived, the two undergraduates actually celebrated the occasion with fellow students and Monkey Day was popularized. Since then, December 14th has become a more serious affair that celebrates both monkeys but also apes, lemurs, gibbons, and other simians. Monkey Day is also popular among animal rescue and environment conservation groups while visual artists program events at art galleries, the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian, and at elementary schools. It is a day to learn from and appreciate these highly intelligent creatures.

Monkeys and their primate relatives populate Africa, Central and South America, and Asia ranging in size from tiny pygmy marmosets to gigantic mountain gorillas. Monkey Day offers an opportunity for environmental organizations and wildlife recovery groups to generate awareness of the challenges facing all wild primates. Losses of deforestation; the illicit bushmeat trade and animal trafficking; and impacts due to climate change to their habitats worldwide. Celebrating these diverse creatures is now more important than ever.

Efforts in primate conservation and restoration is the priority of the Gibbon Conservation Center in California. Gibbons are considered the acrobats of the rainforest with their long arms that assist easy movement through the rainforest canopies of Southeast Asia. Their haunting and distinctive vocal singing can be heard from far away at sunset and sunrise. However, like so many other primates, gibbons are endangered from habitat loss, often due to from plantations grown for palm oil exports. The Gibbon center maintains captive breeding colonies for each species known, maintains a genetic database to avoid inbreeding, and provides young gibbons to other zoos for further captive breeding efforts. Eventually, their goal is to restore these agile tree-top apes to protected forest habitats where they were once existed. 

Monkey Day began as a college student's prank so there is still room for a bit of fun. Grade school kids can wear monkey masks or make a silly joke. It is also an easy way to begin learning about wildlife conservation. WHB

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