Don’t snub me ‘cause my face is blue
I’d rather look like me than you
I sport a golden, flowing cape
My long tail shows I’m not an ape
I live up high among the trees
If I could talk, I’d speak Chinese
I like tree lichen for a snack
My meals are plants; they don’t attack
My canines might be sharp and long
They grow for show; don’t get me wrong
I’ll use my teeth for self defense
And show them off if I get tense
But mostly I just like to cuddle
To survive, we monkeys huddle
Days are short and nights are cold
It helps to have some friends to hold
My bluish face and lack of nose
Is from the coldness, I suppose
And if you lived where my kind do
You’d probably have a blue face too
— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud
The Snub-Nosed Sichuan monkey is a unique creature that lives in the remote and mountainous regions of central and southwestern China. It is also called the “Blue-Cheeked Monkey” and the “Chinese Golden Monkey.” No other primate can survive such extreme temperatures. Scientists are not sure why this monkey’s face is blue… it’s not really because of the cold. But the adaptation of no protruding nasal bone structures resulting in its snub-nosed appearance, might prevent this little guy from getting a frost-bitten nose. There’s no nose for the frost to bite!
The Snub-Nosed Golden Monkey also has thick fur for insulation, and it has a habit of cuddling in groups when it is cold or threatened by predators with the babies in the middle of the huddle for warmth and protection. They are usually gentle creatures who eat plants, including lichen which comprise a large portion of their diet. Those long canine teeth are for expressing bravado or fear; they do not mean that it is a carnivore. They will defend their territories against other bands of monkeys and can use their teeth to fight off predators such as wolves, foxes, weasels and raptors.
These fascinating beloved beasts are in danger of disappearing altogether as their habitat disappears and, despite protections, they are hunted illegally for their meat and fur. One group of these monkeys, the Hubei golden snub-nosed monkeys, have only 1,000 to 2,000 members left.
There is an old Chinese legend about a warrior monkey named Sun Wukong who had supernatural powers. If attacked, Sun Wukong could create an army by turning each of his long guard hairs into an powerful warrior, a clone of himself. Unfortunately, these little creatures cannot actually clone themselves and their numbers continue to dwindle. They need our help and protection.
The Nature Conservancy is one group that is working to save populations of the rare snub-nosed monkeys. A determined and dedicated biologist, Long Yongcheng, worked for many long years, with help from the Nature Conservancy, to save these monkeys. He succeeded in getting areas of forest set aside for habitat reserved for the snub-nosed monkeys. One person can make a difference in saving an entire species.