Natural habitat: Brutal ethnic conflicts, underground boxing matches, safe houses.
Likeliness of public masturbation: High. All that killing cranks up the testosterone levels and there has to be an outlet.
Interesting fact: Revered filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was desperate to use real chimpanzees in the iconic start to his masterpiece 2001 A Space Odyssey instead of actors dressed in monkey suits. After six months of perseverance, however, Kubrick was forced to give up because the chimps just couldn’t resist dry riding the giant black plinth.
Profile: Due to misleading advertising from a well-known purveyor of tea, chimps were once regarded as the good guys of the animal kingdom, cheeky chappies whose only crime was their hilarious incompetence in the field of home removal. That all changed, however, with the ground-breaking BBC documentary The Trials of Life.
It exposed a group of wild chimps as ruthless cold-blooded killers who would gladly tear other simians limb from limb. With the secret now out of the bag, other documentaries were quick to trample on the once-proud reputation of the chimps, revealing that it’s actually bonobos who are laid back and peace-loving while their chimpanzee cousins continually go on testosterone-fuelled rampages. While there is no escaping that fact, thankfully it only applies to wild chimps who have to hunt for their scran.
The grade-D meat flung out by our keepers at feeding time is enough to sate the hunger of Rhesus Park’s chimpanzees, ensuring that cases of murder and cannibalism remain rare. So just ignore David Attenborough and all the other revisionists by retreating into the past and enjoying our chimps, a refreshing throwback to a much simpler time when heinous sexual proclivities would not preclude one from a successful career in primetime TV.
Natural habitat: Rehab groups, Manchester sex clubs, baby showers.
Likeliness of public masturbation: Extremely low. A gibbon’s hands are otherwise engaged preventing gravity from causing grievous bodily harm. They sometimes crack one off before bedtime but that sadly comes after the park has closed.
Interesting fact: Colleagues of Scottish sportswriter Glenn Gibbons thought it would be amusing to buy him an actual gibbon as a retirement present upon his withdrawal from the front line at the Scotsman.
The Edinburgh pet shop they made enquiries at was hopelessly ill-equipped for such a demand, however, so they had to try to pass off a ring-tailed lemur as a gibbon instead. Such a ploy was never likely to fool Gibbons, a notorious pedant who furiously scolded sub-editors for any changes to his purple prose, and he refused to take the lemur into his care.
The subterfuge simian was therefore left to take up residence in the Scotsman’s office where he remains to this day, having risen slowly through the ranks to become night editor..
Profile: Despite impressive attempts by Tommy Sheridan and Russell Brand to lay claim to the title, Gibbons remain very much the King of the Swingers. There are few finer sights in the entire animal kingdom than watching a gibbon fly between the trees at rapier speed, although those of a darker disposition would contend that watching a gibbon fall from said trees at a rapier speed would be more entertaining.
Gibbons move with such grace and ease that the Thais have branded them “wind monkeys”, although it’s to be hoped this moniker has nothing to do with the effect a predominantly peanut-based diet has on the digestive system. Rhesus Park boasts one of the largest collections of gibbons in the UK, mainly due our business links with Indonesia, which contains around 75 per cent of the global gibbon population. Capturing a clear picture of each Rhesus Park gibbon in full flight is a challenge every photographer should relish. Snap away at your pleasure.
Natural habitat: Star Trek conventions, nudist beaches, automated car washes.
Likeliness of public masturbation: Medium. Gorillas are dignified beasts who like to do the deed behind closed doors. But the lack of female companionship often manifests itself as much in self-abuse as testosterone-fuelled sodomy.
Interesting fact: The cartoon super group Gorillaz actually contained two real gorillas from Tokyo zoo, Julius Starburst and Big Time Mamadou. Both contributed greatly to the group’s success, with Julius laying down the bassline for breakthrough hit Clint Eastwood and Mamadou providing the distinctive keyboard riff for Tomorrow Comes Today.
Personality clashes with lead singer Damon Albarn soon became evident, though, and the two gorillas went ballistic when Albarn tried to make them learn ancient Namibian folk music for a B-side. After hospitalising Albarn, thereby ruining a proposed Blur reunion concert that would have earned him £2million, the gorillas were sacked without receiving any royalty payments.
Profile: Monkeys are often figures of ridicule but it would take a brave man to mock the mighty gorilla, undisputed king of all he surveys. Those who try usually end up either in a hospital bed (like keeper and budding magician Hertz van Rentaal) or on a cold slab in a mortuary (like the mayor who officially opened Rhesus Park in 1952 and took unfair advantage of the complimentary champagne with the gravest of consequences).
Although gorillas have one of the longest life spans in the simian world, typically between 30 and 40 years, the celebrity silverback who delivered the coup de grace to Mayor Sheepshanks, a mighty and dignified beast called Panzer, sadly passed away in 2007. The memory of his work lives on, however, as the gorillas still display the mayoral chain inside their enclosure as a macabre souvenir of that infamous day.
The current residents of Rhesus Park are thankfully much more placid, mainly because we boast Britain’s only group of captive gay gorillas. Homosexuality was sadly forced on the five males when the only female gorilla passed away from sheer exhaustion aged just 14 in 2009. Budgetary restraints have stopped Rhesus Park from investing in any replacement females and until the brutal effects of the global economic crisis begin to abate, our gorillas are condemned to a life of man love as their hair turns from black to grey.
Natural habitat: The toilets of TGI Friday’s, Olly Reed’s wine cellar, Glebe Park.
Likeliness of public masturbation: Medium. Lemurs group together for warmth and comfort so coitus is usually more common than self pollution.
Interesting fact: Some Hollywood insiders credit the sudden descent of Steve Guttenburg’s career down to a Malagasy lemur curse. In Malagasy culture, lemurs have souls (ambiroa) which can get revenge if mocked while alive or killed in a cruel fashion. Had Guttenburg realised this, he may not have cracked a joke at the expense of David Graf’s pet lemur during the Los Angeles screening of Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.
To compound this error, a drunk Guttenburg later acquiesced to the dare of co-star Bubba Smith and ate the unfortunate lemur while Graf was trying to seduce Marion Ramsey, who played timid officer Hooks in the hilarious silver-screen caper. Had Graf, who possessed the same hair-trigger temper at his on-screen alter-ego Officer Tackleberry, found out about this brutal murder then Guttenburg would likely have suffered a similar fate as the poor lemur. The funnyman escaped violent retribution but many believe the lemur had the last laugh, gaining revenge on Guttenburg in the form of a spectacular fall from grace that reached its nadir with a gratefully received role in Single Santa Seeks Mrs Claus.
Profile: Be careful what you say while watching the lemurs of Rhesus Park go about their business or you could end up with a Malagasy curse of your own. As part of a research project run by Oxford University, a succession of Rosetta Stone CDs have been in constant rotation on the speakers inside the lemur enclosure. As a result, some researchers believe our lemurs are now fluent in 13 different languages. This means if you want to hurl an insult in their direction you better mug up on your Flemish or Serbo-Croat swearwords or trouble may be afoot.
Quite why you would want to mock such a graceful, charming and beguiling simian is beyond us anyway. Spend five minutes marvelling in wonder at our lemurs and you’ll forget all about that argument with your cantankerous spouse, the shattering realisation that your youth will never be recaptured or what you can use to disguise the fetid stench of those two chopped-up hitchhikers in your boot.