Friday, December 30, 2011

Shock for baby monkey who thought she had discovered a treat

Picking up a piece of nettle, this inquisitive baby rhesus monkey had no idea she was about to get stung.

As she explored her enclosure, the two month old primate reached out and placed the green 'food' into her mouth at Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire.

At first she appeared unsure about what to do with the leaf before she put it in her mouth.

But seconds later her face grimaced in shock as the nettle gave her a nasty nip before she spat it out in her hand and looked at it puzzlingly.

The hilarious moment was caught on camera by Longleat's deputy head warden Ian Turner who had noticed the two-month-old monkey acting curiously around the nettles.

Ian said: 'I had only hoped to get a quick close-up snap of the baby looking towards me. I didn't quite expect her to begin eating the stinging nettle.

'The monkeys here are normally pre-occupied with visitor cars but this young monkey obviously found something which appeared more interesting.

'Most animals don't generally react in the same way humans do to stinging nettles. I was quite surprised at the reaction this little one had towards it. She was a little shocked.

'She's probably no more than a couple of months old but clearly has no fear.

'We normally feed the monkeys a special primate diet as well as a mix of fruit to feed on but obviously on this occasion the temptation of a stinging nettle seemed irresistible!' But the sting from the nettle appeared to be short-lived as the animal was soon seen with the rest of the troop happily playing.

The monkey is one of more than 100 Rhesus Macaques at Longleat who normally spend their days leaping on thousands of cars that pass through their enclosure each day.

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.

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