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Friday, April 27, 2012

Water way to monkey around: While we grumble about the rain, primates party in the puddles at Longleat Safari Park

By Phil Vinter

The recent heavy downpours may have left many of us once again bemoaning the British weather, but for these inquisitive characters it was cause for a party.

The monkeys at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park made the most of large puddles which formed following the bad weather to get down to some serious monkey business.

Far from heading for cover, the huge pools of water became a temporary play area for the rhesus monkeys as some were delighted by their own reflections.

Making waves: A rhesus monkey plays in a huge puddle of water that has been created by the recent heavy rainfall at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire

Longleat's deputy head keeper Ian Turner, who took the photographs, said: 'Watching them jumping about in the puddles and even throwing stones and other objects into the water to see how big a splash they can make has been great.

'It's obvious they genuinely enjoy themselves, even if the rest of us are finding the rain less entertaining.'

He added: 'I was particularly interested to observe them watching their reflections in the water. They seemed to be captivated by their own image and it really brings home how intelligent they are.'

The monkeys are among more than 100 rhesus macaques at Longleat who normally spend their days leaping from car to car, hitching free rides on the thousands of vehicles that pass through their enclosure each day.

Double vision: This rhesus monkey enjoys making ripples as he rests on a rock at the edge of a giant puddle

New experience: This inquisitive chappy appears to be checking out his reflection in the water before creating a big splash

Waterworld: Fascinated by their wet surroundings, it is a new experience for some of the younger members of the group

Splish splash: The monkeys normally spend their days leaping from car to car, hitching free rides on the thousands of vehicles

Found throughout south-east Asia and across the Indian subcontinent, rhesus monkeys thrive in a wide variety of habitats and climates.

In some parts of India they are believed to be sacred, with the result that they have lived in close contact with humans for centuries, particularly in and around Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Rhesus monkeys are extremely intelligent, naturally inquisitive animals who can learn to manipulate simple tools and distinguish colours and shapes.



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