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June 8, 2012

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False claim stirs monkey envy

THE city's wildlife protection watchdog warned yesterday that a man who claimed online to have bought a tiny monkey in Shanghai and raised it as a pet is risking a criminal charge for trading in protected wildlife.

The Shanghai Wildlife Conservation Management Station said trading protected monkeys is a crime that could lead to five years or more in prison. The watchdog is seeking clues from the public to help track down the monkey owner and the related business chains.

Animal experts warned that it's unsafe to keep monkeys as pets because they can pass deadly virus to their raisers.

Photos of the home-raised monkey spurred great online interest over the past few days, with some envious web users discussing how to raise one of their own. The pictures showed the palm-sized animal in various poses, including a popular one of the monkey sipping coke through a straw at a KFC outlet.

The "owner" described the animal as a "Japanese stone monkey" and said he bought it for 15,000 yuan (US$2,356) last month in Shanghai. He claimed that it's the only monkey breed authorized to be raised as a pet in China and that it will remain mini-sized after it matures.

But the wildlife conservation station said the pet appeared to be a baby macaca, a precious species under national protection and banned from trading. The station officials said it's illegal to raise a macaca and that trading it is a crime. They also said it can grow to 11 kilos.


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