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1 April 2013 | Anna Reynolds
A clothing factory in the Chinese city of Chángshā, has welcomed some unusual additions to its workforce – four chimpanzees.
The factory is training the chimps to perform simple tasks such as lifting and packing boxes onto loading bays. Some chimps will even be assisting busy staff in more technical duties on sewing machines.
The chimps are used to working with people, having been part of a travelling circus before being bought by the factory’s owner. There is a cost benefit for the firm too, with the chimps being paid in bananas and nuts.
Factory manager Chen Wong told local reporters: “We all know that chimps are extremely accomplished. They copy human behaviour on a daily basis. By working closely with the staff here and watching how they work I am confident the chimps will pick up certain skills very quickly.”
It is hoped that the new additions will help speed up production in the factory and boost efficiency in distributing items to retailers. The factory is piloting the training scheme and hopes to introduce more chimps over the course of the year if it is a success.
But the factory’s approach has not been well received by animal rights campaign group Juveniles Against Primate Employment. “Chimps belong in the forest, not a factory,” said Chinese activist April Fou.