Monday, February 05, 2007

Tokyo zoo gorillas get good luck bean shower

gorilla bean showerPiko the gorilla didn't know what hit her when crowds of humans gathered around the ape cage at Tokyo's zoo to shout incantations and throw beans.

She soon figured out that while the people were loud and frightening, the roasted soya beans were very tasty.

Piko was subjected to a traditional Japanese blessing over the weekend that seeks to bring in good fortune.

The ritual is usually reserved for humans but zoo authorities through the apes could do with a bit of luck.

"We threw beans at the gorillas so they can live healthy and long lives and that the females and males get along better in order that they produce more gorillas," gorilla handler Ryo Imanishi told Reuters.

There are currently seven gorillas at Tokyo's zoo. Poaching, the destruction of their natural habitat in central Africa, commercial hunting and the Ebola virus are believed to have severely affected the ape population in the wild.

"I really hope this helps the gorillas species increase," said 19-year old zoo visitor Akiko Ishikawa.

Throwing roasted beans is part of the traditional festival of Setsubun and it is believed to have purifying qualities.

Setsubun was originally performed on what would have been the Chinese New Year eve, but since Japan now celebrates the New Year according to the western calendar, it is marked every February.

Story here.

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