LAHORE: Experts at a ceremony to celebrate International Monkey Day emphasised the role monkeys played in maintaining the ecosystem. They were speaking at a ceremony at Lahore Zoo on Wednesday to observe the day. The ceremony aimed at creating awareness about protecting monkeys and providing them with a better natural environment. The zoo had organised a colourful ceremony in collaboration with the Trust School WAPDA Town Campus to engage school-going children. The ceremony included games for children while students also presented a tableau wearing monkey costumes. The tableau included poems on monkeys and skits highlighting the evolution of monkeys and the threats they face nowadays. Students expressed affection for the monkeys at the zoo by feeding them bananas and dry fruits. Moreover, stuffed specimen of spider and capuchin monkeys were also displayed for public awareness. The school administration had also adopted an olive baboon for two months, by paying the feeding expenditures of Rs 22,000. In regards to this, the Lahore Zoo presented a certificate of adoption to the school. Lahore Zoo is thought to be the third or fourth oldest zoo in the world. The zoo houses a collection of about 1400 animals from 140 species. Presently, the zoo has six species of primates, which include chimpanzee, olive baboon, vervet monkey, capuchin monkey, colobus monkey and rhesus monkey. Lahore Zoo Director Shafqat Ali and Deputy Director Tanvir Janjua highlighted the importance of monkeys in maintaining the ecological balance, as they were an important part of the food web. They also appreciated the children and school administration for showing their love and passion for these creatures and playing a role in conservation of wildlife. Students told Daily Times that this was a healthy activity and made them aware about the protection of wildlife. They said such activities provided a chance to engage with the flora and fauna, which was an integral part of society. Students urged that society should take steps for the protection of endangered animals and birds.Interestingly, the day originated as a joke when artist Casey Sorrow from Michigan State University (MSU) jokingly inscribed ‘monkey day’ on a friend’s calendar and celebrated the holiday with other MSU’s students. The day gained fame when Sorrow and his fellow art student Eric Millikin began including Monkey Day in their artwork and Fetus-X comic strips and started its online promotion. After this incident, the day has been celebrated globally in approximately 12 countries.