Four traveling buskers without wild animal transportation certification were recently caught in the streets of Mudanjiang city of Heilongjiang province while they were playing with their trained monkeys during a performance. They were later held in detention for “illegally trafficking rare wild animals”.
The four buskers are from Xinye county of Henan province, the birthplace of “monkey busking tricks“. The street performances date back hundreds of years, and monkey busking was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2008 by the State Council, according to Baibu Baike.
So how is a national cultural heritage custom considered a “crime”? The survival of the Xinye monkey busking has raised nation-wide concern.
One photographer has been documenting the experiences of two traveling buskers, Lao Yang and Huang Aiqing, since 2002.
Lao Yang has traveled with his monkeys for years. His son now tags along with him on his travels seeking work.
Lao Yang sleeps on big stony brick with his monkeys.
2004: Lao Yang cools down with his monkeys in a river in his hometown.
2007: Lao Yang busking on Guangzhou streets.
2009: Lao Yang gives water to his monkey in Jiangxi.
2003: Lao Yang sneaks into the train to travel back to his hometown.
Huang Aiqing and his monkeys have been working on the streets in various cities for around 19 years. He started raising monkeys in 2002. His wife, Jiao Xinzhen, is also a great monkey breeder and is known for breastfeeding the monkeys.
Huang’s wife is seen breastfeeding monkeys.
Huang Aiqing’s son raised a monkey of his own. The pair sleep and eat together.
Huang Aiqing is holding a one-month-old monkey.
If monkeys fight and get injured during “monkey business”, the couple tends to them with medical treatment. Previously, the couple needed to carry out a c-section on one of the monkeys in labor.
Huang says the monkeys are respected and loved in their family and he vows to take care of them when they grow too old for the business.
Huang is training a monkey to ride a bicycle.
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By Lucy Liu
[ Images via Sina News ]
[ Video via 56.com ]