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Baby Jesus makes his entrance
December 25, 2014 Rhesus Park is delighted to announce that Rosalee's macaque baby was successfully delivered today, bringing a Christmas miracle to vivid life at Rhesus Park.
After a tense and somewhat fraught Christmas Day, we were blessed with the latest addition to the Rhesus Park family who was given the fitting name of Jesus, although macaque keeper Elena Cartwright lobbied for the moniker Kanye at the last minute.
CEO David Alsatian said: "This magical moment ranks up there with seeing my brother lay waste to his precious Subutteo set when I beat him all those years ago.
"I would like to thank Rosalee for showing us patience and for giving birth in enough time to let me get back home to watch the East Enders Christmas special."
Rhesus Park Xmas Memories
December 24, 2015 The festive season is upon us again and in the spirit of goodwill to all men, we will be giving all staff a half-day on December 25, so they can rush home to their families in time to eat some leftover turkey.
To give you a flavour of what our keepers get up to away from Rhesus Park, we have asked them to tell us about their favourite Christmas memory.
Clemente Kurva, head keeper
My favourite Christmas came when I was back home working for the Czechoslovakian secret police. Along with a close colleague, Martin Olga, I was dispatched to Liberec to track down a playwright, Lubomir Hamsik, who had angered the regime by mocking prominent Slovak communist Vasil Bilak in one of his plays, The Dissolute Shrew.
After a long drive from Prague we finally arrived in Liberec on Christmas morning. To settle the nerves we dispatched a few beers at a local tavern, where a loose-lipped drunkard helpfully informed us of the playwright’s whereabouts.
He was spending Christmas at the home of his cousin and the whole Hamsik family were there to see his disgrace as we dragged him away from the dining table and threw him out the front door into the snow. When that clown Hamsik heard his five-year-old nephew cry “Mummy, will they kill him?” as we set about him in front of our van, he must have realised the error he had made in writing such filth about a prominent public figure. We didn’t kill him in the end but it was a Christmas both Hamsik and my raw fists will never forget.
David Alsatian, chief executive
Christmas is always such a wonderful time of the year for me so it’s hard to pick out a particular favourite. But 1986 stands out as the most memorable, in the days of childhood wonder.
My elder brother Nigel had been badgering our parents for months about getting a Subbuteo set and it made his day when he ripped off the wrapping paper to reveal the deluxe edition. After patiently setting up the stadium over the next two hours, painstakingly placing each fan on the terracing and stands, Nigel was finally ready for his maiden game. I was chosen at the sacrificial lamb and few pundits gave my Shrewsbury Town side a prayer against Nigel’s Double-winning Liverpool heroes.
But Kenny Dalglish proved unusually wasteful in front of goal and the Shrews snatched a 2-1 win with the last kick of the ball. Nigel did not take this unexpected development well and disciplined his errant Anfield stars by stamping on all their heads. He then laid waste to the celebrating Shrewsbury players before taking the last remnants of his anger out on the stadium, breaking both stands and snapping the scoreboard in half.
My parents, having saved up all year to buy the Subbuteo set were furious and refused to buy a replacement for Nigel, insisting he had to learn how to accept defeat as a gentleman. He therefore had to save up all his pocket money before reconstruction work could begin and the repairs weren’t completed until Christmas the following year. How do you like them apples, Nigel?
Clementine Rough, chimpanzee keeper
My first festive season as a woman was always going to be memorable but a truck driver from Leeds called Big Bob ensured it was extra special.
In a bid to test drive my new genitalia, I took out a personal ad in a well-known “gentleman’s magazine” and the replies flooded in. After ruling out the potential serial killers and those with obvious physical deformities, the shortlist was cut down from 198 to just two, Big Bob from Leeds and a Scot called Michael McTavish.
The more handsome of the two was Michael so he was the one I called up first but within a manner of minutes it became obvious he was a raging alcoholic so Big Bob won by default. We met for the first time on December 20 and thus began our whirlwind romance.
I joined Bob as he toured the UK delivering walnut whips to supermarket warehouses and we romped in laybys from Torquay to Tobermory. Bob was a big fan of Bobby Gentry and her greatest hits provided the soundtrack to both our travels and our lovemaking. Man he made a woman out of me pretty much summed up our relationship and I was distraught when Manchester CID found the bodies of four streetwalkers under his patio and sent him down for 45 years.
Hertz van Rentaal, gibbon keeper
It has to be Christmas 1997 when my parents bought my first magic set. By the time our cat was gorging on a turkey carcass and grandad has passed out on the sofa after draining the contents of a brandy bottle I had already mastered simple card tricks and managed to successfully palm a ping pong ball. Last Christmas ran it pretty close, though, thanks to a certain Elena Cartwright and my generous gift from Ann Summers.
Jesus Garcia Iturrapse, capuchin keeper
As a reward for having two of my jokes featured on the Lenny Henry Show, I was invited to join the audience for the Christmas Special in 1989. What a magical night it was, I shall thank the Lord until my dying day for giving me such an unforgettable hour of entertainment.
In addition to witnessing Britain’s finest comedian at the peak of his powers, I also got to meet Terence Trent D’Arby and Robbie Coltrane, who made cameo appearances on the show. Robbie told me about one of his future projects, a film called Nuns on The Run, and I used my background in the clergy to give him some invaluable insights. We all got merry on rum back in the green room and Terence told us sordid details about the depraved things Tanita Tikaram and Tracy Chapman made him do when he toured America for the first time in 1988.
Elena Cartwright, macaque keeper
Everyone thinks of my Uncle Clemente as some kind of ogre but I saw the softer side of him back when I was just seven. I spent Christmas that year in hospital after breaking my leg during our school nativity play.
I was cast in the role of Mary and one of the wise men unfortunately knocked three of the wooden oxen into the manager when he tripped over his cape. The first oxen landed square on the head of the baby Jesus, succeeding where King Herod was set to fail, while the other two pinned down my right leg.
When I was finally freed the damage was obvious and I was rushed straight to hospital, where I remained for the next week. Spending Christmas away from my family was a nightmare but Uncle Clemente lifted my spirits by dressing up as Santa and dropping a stocking filled with sweets and other goodies at the end of my bed. He also put the biggest smile of the week on my face when he smacked one of my fellow patients on the back of the head when the ugly brute of a boy tried to make off with the Bounty from my selection box. You never get picked on when you have Clemente as your uncle.
Salvatore Knuckles Pardesi, lemur keeper
I thought my first Christmas after the death of my parents would be all darkness and gloom but the hoods in the Cosa Nostra made sure it was the most entertaining time of my life.
They pinched presents from all over Palermo and intimidated the town's finest tailor into dressing me up to look like a proper gangster (pictured right).
I was treated to a sumptuous Christmas banquet and the Godfather flew in Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to provide the entertainment. To round off the perfect day they tied a suspected informer to a tree and let me bash him with a baseball bat as if he was a Mexican piñata.
Those were the days. Christmas just hasn't been the same since then.
Rosalee's real-life nativity play
December 21, 2015 Rhesus Park Rhesus Park could host an extra special nativity scene this Christmas as our macaque Rosalee is due to give birth on December 25.
Rosalee’s pregnancy has been long and painful for both the primate and our staff who have been forced to deal with her violent mood swings and cravings for aniseed confectionary.
But local vets see light at the end of the tunnel and believe the macaque will finally deliver her infant when families across the UK are tucking into their turkeys.
Our macaque keeper Elena Cartwright said: “It’s amazing that Rosalee is due to give birth on Christmas Day. If it’s a boy we will have to call him Jesus. If it’s a girl we will probably call her Mary.
“It’s stretching the truth to call it a virgin birth as those dirty male macaques were queuing up to have a go on Rosalee just about every day during mating season.
“But I reckon there’s something special about this baby. Maybe he could be a simian messiah, like that monkey from Dawn of Apes.”
To celebrate the Christmas birth, rhesuspark.com will be running a live webcam on December 24 so the great British public can witness history being made.
CEO David Alsatian said: “For the small price of £24.99 you can give yourself the greatest Christmas present of all by witnessing the wonder of birth live on the internet.
“This touching story should help us all realise what Christmas is really about and if any of the major TV networks want to get in touch about screeing the birth then we will be happy to co-operate.”
Sing-along-a-Xmas with Kurva
November 15, 2015 We are delighted to announce that head keeper Clemente Kurva will again be holding his Sing-along-a-Christmas night at Rhesus Park on December 27.
Clemente’s annual one-man show (pictured right) is the highlight of the festive season in Shrewsbury and you can be there to witness the magic yet again.
As usual, Clemente will start the one-hour special with a demonstration of his favourite martial art, Chun Kok Do, in homage to his hero Chuck Norris. He will then pull out a microphone and serenade us with his favourite Christmas songs, including classics such as Here Comes Santa Claus, O Holy Night, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, All I Want For Christmas Is You and Saviour’s Day.
To round off a night of fantastic festive fayre, Clemente will then tell the Nativity Story in just 10 minutes, taking on the role of every character.
It’s now seven years since Clemente first treated the Shropshire public to his unique Christmas cavalcade and the Czech can’t wait to share his talent once more.
He told rhesuspark.com: “Every year I somehow manage to raise the bar and 2014 will be no different. Miss this at your peril.”
Tickets are £35 and that includes free parking plus a complimentary mince pie and glass of mulled wine.