Zoo Officials Frustrated in Monkey Negotiations
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Negotiations to borrow rare golden monkeys from China are at an impasse over high costs, say officials from the Los Angeles and San Francisco zoos.
The breakdown occurred this month in Peking after the Chinese demanded a $150,000 cash donation to the China Wildlife Conservation Association from each zoo in return for a loan of the monkeys. They also wanted the zoos to pay insurance and travel expenses for the primates.
″It adds up to $200,000, which we’re not able to pay,″ Marcia Hobbs, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, said Tuesday.
The group’s board voted down the Chinese proposal Tuesday, but Ms. Hobbs said she hoped talks can resume.
″Right now, we’re in a stalemate. I would like to think the Chinese would be more ready for a compromise,″ said Saul Kitchener, executive director of the San Francisco Zoo.
The monkeys, which number between 500 and 1,000 and live only in China, are noted for long golden coats and blue faces. Males can grow to five feet.
The Los Angeles and San Francisco zoos had sought the golden monkeys after drawing huge crowds last year when they displayed giant pandas on loan from China.
But the monkeys ″would not bring in anywhere near the number (of people) that the pandas brought in,″ Kitchener said.
China had not allowed any golden monkeys out of the country since 1939, but the San Diego Zoo pulled off a coup when it got two monkeys on loan last year.
Just as a Chinese delegation arrived at the Los Angeles Zoo last July for a luncheon, they were met in the zoo parking lot by San Diego Zoo representatives who whisked them off for a makeshift lunch.
Two weeks later, the San Diego Zoo announced that it had reached an agreement to receive two of the rare primates.
Attendance at the San Diego Zoo jumped 8 percent while the monkeys were on display, said Jeff Jouett, spokesman for that zoo.
The Los Angeles Zoo opened its $300,000 China Pavilion last July with pandas Ying Xin and Yun Yun, which were loaned by Peking to coincide with the Summer Olympics. The pandas were sent on to San Francisco in October and then home to China, and the pavilion has been empty ever since.
Hoping to smooth the way for the talks, Hobbs said the zoo association gave the Chinese a $20,000 ultrasound device that can be used to monitor female pandas during mating season.