Monkey business - Celebrating the Lunar New Year

It's that time of year again. The Lunar New Year is upon us and this time we're celebrating the Year of the Monkey. We at TAFE NSW love diversity and the festivities aren't limited just to our Chinese students – there's something here for everyone.

Get out there and enjoy the festivities. Head to the Pyrmont Bay Park, Lunar Markets for some delicious dumplings. Take in traditional lion dancing performances through the streets of Chinatown or cheer along as the dragon boats race along Cockle Bay Wharf in Darling Harbour. Check out all the events around the suburbs of Sydney

So, it seems timely to ask – how much do you actually know about monkeys? You'll go bananas over our list of fun monkey facts.

  • Monkeys are scientifically quite distinct from apes (our closest relatives) even though the terms ‘monkey' and ‘ape' are often used interchangeably.
  • The most obvious visible difference between monkeys and apes is that monkeys have tails while apes do not.
  • There are over 260 different species of monkey on the planet today.
  • Monkeys are either Old World (from Africa or Asia) or New World (from the Americas).
  • The average lifespan of a healthy monkey is about 30 years.
  • Monkeys are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plant-based foods.
  • A group of monkeys is known as a troop, tribe, mission or cartload.
  • The first living creature sent into space was a rhesus monkey named Albert who was launched in June 1948.
  • The noise of a howler monkey can be heard for up to five kilometres.
  • Monkeys show their affection by grooming each other.
  • Monkeys can count and do addition, but falter when it comes to the quadratic equation.
  • While all monkeys have fairly high intelligence, capuchins are considered the smartest – they can recognize their own reflections in mirrors, are fast learners and even make their own insect repellent from crushed millipedes.
  • Given that we humans like to personify animals, the humble monkey has developed a reputation as being cheeky, playful, creative, resourceful, social and practical. These characteristics are also shared by many humans, and can be seen in career areas like mechanic (i.e. grease monkey), hairdresser (all that grooming) and anything in the entertainment industry. If you haven't yet done TAFE NSW's career quiz, try it now. Maybe monkey is your spiritual (and career) animal.