1981 / 1月
The Chinese have traditionally regarded the white-haired monkey as an auspicious symbol. For instance, Lan Shih-ning, the famous artist of the Ching dynasty depicted such a creature to exemplify purity and nobility in a painting entitled "A Hundred Generations of Feudal Lords." Zoologists point out that only one monkey in 100,000 is white-haired (albino).
The owner of such a monkey in the Republic of China, Hsu Fang-ching, regards it with the same reverence as a national treasure.
History: Three years ago, an aborigine in Hualien County caught a white monkey in the Central Mountain Range. Convinced that this was a good omen, the aborigines drank and danced in celebration. As the news spread, people rushed to the village to try to buy the animal. The monkey had five owners before it finally became the property of Hsu and his wife. Hsu said that a Japanese once offered 50 million yen (US$235,000) for it, but was turned down.
Though he is kept busy as assistant general manager of two restaurants, Hsu sets aside as much time as possible to be with his pet. He says: "Just look at her glistening white hair and pink eyes. She is so cute and docile as you play with her. She can even tell the difference between approaching footsteps."
Hsu pointed out, however, that the monkey becomes hostile if she is bothered while she is eating. He said jokingly: "Maybe because of the attraction between the sexes, she tends to be more friendly with male visitors, although she gets along pretty well with my wife."
Nursing: The care given to the monkey is as great as if she was one of the family. The Hsus do their best to feed her personally. "She has four meals a day, consisting of apples, pears, peaches and carrots and other fruits and vegetables. Her favorite food, however, is rice with some special nutriments added," Hsu said.
After bathing the monkey, Hsu and his wife dry her with towels and a drier, and smooth her hair with a comb. At the moment, the main problem is finding a suitable mate for the monkey. Hsu has kept in touch with zoos in Britain, the United States, South Africa and Japan, so far without result. Hsu said that if no suitable mates can be found, the white monkey might be allowed to mate with an ordinary monkey. If the offspring is male, the white monkey will be crossbred with it, and there is a slight chance that another white monkey might be the result.
Not for sale: Hsu said that many people both in Taiwan and abroad have made high bids for the monkey, but he never accepts. "For one thing, I have developed a deep affection for her, and for another, I am afraid that this rare treasure will suffer in the hands of careless people, or may even be resold outside Taiwan. If this happens, I think it would be a great loss to our country," he said.
1. The white-haired monkey is a particularly prized possession. 2 & 3. After being washed, the monkey is dried with a towel and drier, and has its hair combed.
Above: The monkey eating a carrot. Right: Hsu and his wife never forget to take their pet along with them on outings.