[monkeywire] Special-needs monkey celebrates

carrie mclaren brooklynite282 at gmail.com
Fri May 2 11:06:20 EDT 2008

Special-needs monkey celebrates
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4505416a10.html(With image)

*They made special cards, queued to wish him Happy Birthday, and one
youngster brought a banana tied with a bow to help Ricky, the special-needs
monkey, celebrate his 15th - and possibly last - birthday at Natureland.*

Zoo curator Gail Sutton said the day was extra special as staff had thought
Natureland was going to close on March 31, and would not have been open to
celebrate Ricky's milestone.

"We didn't make any plans, and when we found we were definitely staying open
longer we had three weeks to put together a birthday party for Ricky."

Mrs Sutton said the community had been supportive and donated time and
energy to help the cash-strapped zoo mark the capuchin monkey's big day.

A cloud has hung over the future of Natureland and its inhabitants after the
Nelson City Council announced a month ago that it planned to close the small
zoo because it was no longer financially viable.

The council is now discussing proposals for the zoo's future, including one
that is believed to have come from the Christchurch-based Orana Wildlife

Ricky, who was left badly brain-damaged after being brutalised by a jealous
sibling when he was born, has been in the media spotlight following the
council's announcement, with staff and the public expressing concern at what
might happen to him should the zoo close.

Mrs Sutton said the turnout for Wednesday's party was great, and people had
queued from 9.30am to get into the park.

She said the number of visitors was probably up on Ricky's previous birthday
celebrations, possibly because it could be the last one he had at

Ricky would be found another home if he couldn't stay at Natureland, she

On Wednesday, the birthday boy spent a lot of the morning wrapped in a rug
to ensure he didn't catch a chill.

Among the young fans who gathered to give Ricky a gentle pat were Damien, 2,
and Hayley Pettis, 11 months, of Motueka.

Their mother, Jody Pettis, said Damien had been excited to see Ricky, and
had been chanting, "Monkey, monkey" as soon as he entered the park.

Tessa Moore, 4, from Wakefield also stood close by Ricky. Her mother, Sonia
Moore, said Tessa was a huge fan of Ricky, and often went to Natureland with
her grandmother.

Capuchin monkeys can live until age 40.

Natureland is now scheduled to close on July 4.

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