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Monkey business no joke at Santa Ana Zoo

January 23, 2009 8:56:18 AM PST
Monkey business usually has to do with something funny going on, but in Orange County, some folks are very serious about their monkey business. One man is trying to make sure the Santa Ana Zoo keeps its end of a long-standing bargain.It's been called "Monkey Zoo" for nearly 60 years. But that could change if a Santa Ana man makes good on his threat to take back 12 acres of property donated to the city of Santa Ana in 1949.

"I would have to say that was not my objective but I certainly can take it," said Joseph Powell. "So get your 50 monkeys, folks."

Joseph Powell says his granduncle Joseph Edward Prentice donated the land for the zoo, Prentice Park, with a stipulation that a minimum of 50 monkeys live on the property at all times. Today, the zoo makes its quota of 50 monkeys, but over the last two months the population here dropped to 48 after the death of two monkeys.

"We had seen some monkey business going on before and two monkeys had gotten together and were going to have some babies, so we knew there were going to be babies very soon and they were born this week," said Kent Yamaguchi, interim zoo director.

Those twins were born to golden lion tamarinds, the babies barely visible on the backs of mom and dad. They'll buy the zoo a bit more time, but Powell promises to stay vigilant in honor of his granduncle.

"It says in the grant that in any such time that if any of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the same shall cause the premises to revert to the grantor or his or hers - that's me and my family," said Powell. "And we're just concerned that they're not doing their job."

Meantime, the zoo promises to take Powell's threat seriously.

"Oh, we're going to be very serious about keeping our monkey numbers up," said Yamaguchi. "There's no monkey business that's going to be going on here."


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