IT SOUNDS bananas – but monkeys in Dublin Zoo have to watch their waists.
A zoo in Devon has decided to stop their monkeys from eating bananas – long regarded as the cornerstone of their diet.
The banana clampdown follows growing concern by nutritionists that the monkey population is becoming too fat.
And in what could be a signal for confronting the obesity problem in humans, these animal experts maintain the core of the problem is that bananas have become too sugary.
Now the Devon authorities have put the monkeys on a non-fattening mix of root vegetables, branches, and brown rice.
But Dublin Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel feels there is no cause for panic.
"All our primates are on very specialist diets," he said. "Everything is measured, carefully weighed, and perfectly balanced. Some primates eat more fruit than others. It all depends on the species."
However, a variety of carefully planned eating options are on offer.
"For example there are small primates who eat adult insects, so there is an enormous variety of diets overseen by an animal nutritionist."
HE ALSO EXPLAINED THAT SOME MONKEYS HAVE A PENCHANT FOR EATING LEAVES BUT EVEN THEY RUN THE RISK OF GETTING A "POT BELLY" BECAUSE THEY HAVE A VERY LONG INTESTINE.
Meanwhile, nutritionists at Devon's Paignton Zoo, remain concerned their monkeys could develop gastrointestinal problems, or possibly diabetes, as a result of too many bananas.
"People usually try to improve their diet by eating more fruit. However, fruit cultivated for humans is much higher in sugar than most wild fruit because we like it to be sweet and juicy," spokesperson Dr Amy Plowman said.
A head keeper of mammals at the zoo has also warned that smaller monkeys such as tamarins and marmosets can be "highly strung".
"They live in tight knit social groups which can be quite aggressive at times. Reducing the sugar in their diets has calmed them down – and made them more settled," he said.