Thursday, February 08, 2007

China Holds Monkey Version of 'Big Brother' In Zoo

big brother zoo contestants monkeyA Chinese zoo is running its own version of the reality show 'Big Brother' where contestants live in a monkey enclosure. Last one in wins 11,888 yuan.

Given the choice of being locked in an enclosure for several days with Jade Goody or a bunch of monkeys, which would you prefer?

Six people in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi have chosen the latter. They will live in a monkey enclosure in Qinling zoo in Xi'an with the normal primate inhabitants. The last one in will win 11,888 yuan (€1,182) and the title of honorary animal lover, the newspaper China Daily reported Thursday.

The idea behind the contest is apparently to allow contestants to "experience the lack of freedom the animals have," the paper said. Critics of Chinese state censorship and human rights abuses might be tempted to ask if citizens really need to enter a zoo to experience restricted freedom, however.

"It is the first such activity in China," the newspaper reports, stipulating that "any Chinese from 18 to 60 years old, in good psychological condition" was eligible to take part. It added, somewhat ominously, that "survival knowledge" was a further prerequisite.

The six contestants, who are reported to be three couples, will live in the enclosure for up to four days in tents. It is not clear what they will eat, although photographs appeared to show them eating the same carrots as their monkey housemates.

The contest, which uses the standard monkey enclosure instead of a purpose-built house equipped with television cameras, is a low-budget affair compared with the media frenzy that is the Western version of 'Big Brother.' Even though the €1,182 prize money is not to be sniffed at in a country where the GDP per capita is estimated to be $7,600 (€5,850), it's significantly less than the £100,000 (€151,480) that Big Brother contestants in the United Kingdom can win.

Story here.

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