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    In Sichuan Park, Monkeys Keep Visitors Wary, Staff on Their Toes

    At Mount Emei, staff follow monkeys around the whole day to prevent them from harassing tourists.
    Feb 24, 2023#tourism

    Inundated with complaints of monkeys harassing tourists, and with conventional tactics — such as catapults and sticks — proving futile, the Mount Emei Scenic Area has settled for a simpler approach: keep both far away from each other. 

    According to reports in domestic media, the scenic park’s administration, located in the southwestern Sichuan province, has had some success recently following this policy shift, in which staff actively follow monkeys and keep them away from visitors. This way, officials hope it will allow visitors to see the primates from afar, while protecting the monkeys from harm. 

    “We are not simply limiting the activity areas for monkeys as many imagine,” staff from the administration department told domestic media. “Instead, our staff follow the monkeys the whole day to prevent them from harassing visitors.” 

    According to officials, 582 monkeys currently inhabit the scenic area, where they are categorized as nationally protected wildlife. This bans the administration from directly restricting and harming the monkeys. It also means that nets cannot be erected to keep tourists and monkeys apart. 

    “Keeping them away from tourists manually has reduced monkey injuries greatly. But since we are limited by manpower, we haven’t implemented the policy completely,” domestic media quoted staff as saying. “We hope visitors don’t feed the monkeys and keep a safe distance away from them.”

    Previously, the administration even attempted selling slingshots to visitors to keep monkeys at bay. It was hoped that the mere sight of the catapults or using one without a projectile would deter the monkeys from approaching tourists. When neither worked, the administration went to great lengths to warn tourists against feeding the monkeys, and also sold visitors long sticks, which could be used to scare off the agile animals. 

    Despite the multiple attempts, “How to battle monkeys at Mount Emei” is still a topic of widespread debate on China’s Q&A platform Zhihu, where over two million users have discussed the issue. 

    Though Mount Emei is famous for its stunning views, the park’s monkeys have attracted more attention on social media platforms, particularly instances of snacks or belongings being snatched away, or visitors being attacked. 

    On the short-video apps Douyin and Kuaishou, footage of monkeys at Mount Emei harassing and taunting tourists receives thousands of likes. 

    Since 2020, the official Mount Emei Scenic Area website has even pinned a special notice for tourists about staying safe while in the park. 

    When Sixth Tone called Mount Emei Scenic Area’s administration, a member of staff who answered the phone Thursday refused to comment. 

    Among China’s Gen Z, “Monkeys at Mount Emei” has become a buzzword, as they consider them a symbol of freedom. “I don’t want to be a student any longer. I want to be a monkey at Mount Emei and slap every passing tourist,” wrote one user, with several followers.

    Editor: Apurva

    (Header image: A monkey grabs a tourist in Mount Emei, Sichuan province, Oc. 25, 2015. VCG)