A zoo in the freezing steppes of Kazakhstan is giving its monkeys red wine to ward off winter colds, its chief animal specialist told AFP on Friday.
"We give the monkeys wine because in the winter it protects them from respiratory infections. You could say we douse them with wine to ward off flu," said Svetlana Pilyuk of the Karagandy zoo in the east of the ex-Soviet state.
"After all, primates are just like people. They enjoy drinking an alcoholic drink, they like it. Some of them even abuse it, coming up to the drinking trough several times," she said.
Pregnant monkeys and babies are not allowed to have the drink, she added.
The zoo feeds the monkeys a kind of red Communion wine, making it more appetising for monkeys by adding chopped fruit, honey, lemon, sugar and hot water.
The outside temperature in Karagandy Friday was minus 33 degrees Celsius (-27 degrees Fahrenheit), but the monkeys had a far warmer temperature of 27 degrees Celsius (80 degreees Fahrenheit) in their enclosure, Pilyuk said.
The vast Central Asian state of Kazakhstan is not a wine-producing country. Its national drink is kumys, or fermented horse milk.