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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monkeying about with a Merc: Zoo gives cheeky inmates given their own car to play with after being forced to ban vehicles

By Daily Mail Reporter

Right, lads, where shall we start? The mischievous macaques descend upon a Mercedes car placed there by staff at Longleat Safari Park

The sight of a team of vandals stripping a car and running off with its parts would normally spark fury - but these scenes of Longleat Safari Park were being actively encouraged today.

The 100 rhesus monkeys were treated to a tattered old Mercedes by staff following a two-year hiatus in which no cars were allowed into their enclosure.

Following redevelopment of the park in Wiltshire, staff decided to give the monkeys their own battered old vehicle to let them take out their frustrations before daring to allow paying visitors to risk driving through it.

This might work as my bedl: A monkey rifles through a suitcase strapped to the roof of the car

If it's not nailed down... A hub cap is torn off almost immediately

Within minutes the gang was bouncing on the bonnet and bending the aerial - while some members concentrated on raiding the roof rack of luggage and draping themselves in clothes and blankets.

One enterprising fellow was even seen sprinting off with a hubcab while another made a determined effort to remove a wing mirror.

The scamps even made an attempt to wrench the iconic Mercedes badge off the car's bonnet.

Ian Turner, deputy head warden, said: 'The monkeys are one of our key attractions.

'Their antics were the perfect preparation for the reopening of the Monkey Jungle at Longleat this weekend.

'They have created fond memories for thousands of children over the years and probably the same number of frustrating memories for mums and dads.

Here's looking at you, kid: A torn-off wing mirror makes an ideal toy

What's this then? The gang examine a stuffed lion

He's coming with me: A decision is taken and the lion is given a new companion

'But having not had any visiting cars coming through their enclosure for so long they've got a lot pent up frustration to get out of their system.

'We thought it was best to give them their very own car to get them back into the swing of things before the start of the new season.

'It's clear to see from our test run however, that mischief is still very much in the front of their minds and they haven't forgotten their fondness for cars.'

On a busy day up to 2,000 cars drive through the monkey enclosure at Longleat.

Rhesus macaque monkeys are found throughout south east Asia and across the Indian sub-continent.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred and have lived in close contact with humans for centuries.

They are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals which can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.

They live in family troops of 20 or more and are led by a dominant male.

How do I look? The monkey on the left poses pensively whilst wrapped in a pink blouse. Meanwhile the chap on the right can't seem to get his outfit right

Now what am I bid? A pink pushchair is discarded from the haul proves a point of interest for the troop

Where does this part go? A part from the car inspires a quizzical glance

That's just how I roll: A tyre makes for a quick getaway method



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