Sister cities were a foreign thing to me before I moved to Oz. They are basically just as they sound; cities that aligned somehow, often to foster cultural awareness between two very different parts of the world. A place can have more than one sister city.
Like real-life sisters, sister cities often give each other gifts. Sometimes these presents are mere plaques or inanimate tokens to symbolize the sisterly bond. Other times, they involve something a bit more, well, animate.
For instance, Ikeda, Japan, gave its sister city Launceston the gift of 10 Japanese macaques in the early 80s. Launceston doesn’t have a zoo, so the city put the monkeys in another place where everyone could enjoy them — the City Park. Launceston once considered getting rid of the monkeys, which reproduced and also, unfortunately, spread herpes to each other. The city had a change of heart and decided to keep them, and now visitors can stop in to see the red-faced macaques scramble around an enclosure with a small pond and tree branches during the day.
I only found out about the monkeys last Thursday, two days before Brendan and I left for a weekend away in Launceston (his Christmas gift to me). I lost my shit, because OHMYGODILOVEMOKEYS. My party trick is swinging my arms by my sides and making monkey noises. I love watching monkeys on David Attenborough specials. I even love bananas.
We headed to the park Saturday at midday. The enclosure was more open than I thought and we could easily see the macaques darting back and forth, munching on leaves and grooming each other. They flipped from a tree branch, rocked on a swing and screeched at each other. Old and young, some interacted with the visitors watching from the pathway above, while others stayed perched higher up in the enclosure.
Before we knew it, an hour had passed. I could have stayed the whole afternoon.