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The Santa Ana Zoo takes its monkeys seriously...all 50 of them

January 25, 2009 |  2:29 pm

Silver langur monkey For the Santa Ana Zoo, monkeys are a precious commodity -- and lemurs and apes just won't do.  Our colleague Tony Barboza explains:

For decades, the family that gave the city the land for its small but popular zoo has kept tabs on the primate population. The deal was 50 monkeys. Anything less and the city would lose the land.

But lately, the Santa Ana Zoo has fallen below the monkey line, and a descendant of city pioneer J.E. Prentice has threatened to take back the 12 acres if the population isn't stabilized...

"You can't just go to Monkeys-R-Us or EBay to get monkeys," said Kent Yamaguchi, interim director at the city zoo. "Populations of living things change, so certain things happen that you may not foresee because they're living, breathing things."

So what's a zoo to do?  Luckily for Santa Ana's, just as its monkey population hit 48 following the deaths of a silver langur and a Capuchin, a golden lion tamarin became pregnant with twins.  She delivered the two babies, each of whom was the size of a thumb, last week -- so Santa Ana's monkey total is back at 50. 

From now on, city officials say they'll work at keeping the zoo's monkey total at 55.  A monkey cushion: that's one phrase we never expected to write!

For more information, check out Barboza's story and its accompanying photo gallery of the zoo's monkey residents.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: An exotic silver langur at Santa Ana Zoo. 

Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times.

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