“So when people see that a species is endangered, maybe they’ll feel motivated to do something to save them.” The three golden monkeys – one male and two females – are expected to arrive by the end of the year, once their exhibit is near completion and China approves the export permit. Former Mayor James Hahn arranged for the loan of the monkeys during a 2002 trade mission to Asia, although he originally had his eye on a couple of pandas. The city will pay the Chinese government $100,000 annually, to be used for monkey research, for the 10-year “loan” of the animals. Golden monkeys have blue faces and long hair that looks like a flowing gold cape as they swing from trees. They weigh around 30pounds, eat foliage and make a catlike meow. The enclosure will look like an aviary, covered by a large mesh net draped over posts, and filled with artificial trees with extra springy limbs for the monkeys to jump around. There will be a viewing platform for visitors to watch the action and a holding building where the monkeys sleep. As they planned the exhibit, the designers from the Seattle-based Portico Group aimed to re-create the feel of a rural Chinese village. “The viewing building has a Chinese character,” principle architect Charles Mays said. “We thought it would be more authentic if we went that extra step and made sure it was done with good feng shui.” His group also worked on the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base in China, where feng shui was incorporated into the design. Mays hired Mainini, an Italian architect educated in Milan who later became an expert in feng shui. To prepare, Mainini walked through the exhibit location and talked to the zoo employees about the monkeys’ behavior – when do they wake up in the morning, what do they do during the day, where do they sleep. Mainini said she didn’t design the exhibit, but rather tweaked the plans to maximize the good chi (pronounced chee.) For example, designers had put the observation tower door in an unfavorable area, increasing the potential for accidents, lawsuits and arguments. She recommended in her report that they move the door or add a fountain or water feature to “soften, with moisture, the harsh energy” in that area of the tower. She also suggested that the designers rotate the monkey holding building slightly, to orient it on a different angle. That would “transform the energy distribution” of the building and result in a “stronger potential for health and well-being.” It would also promote fertility – important for a species with fewer than 10,000 left in the wild. Mainini completed her review in April 2003 and warned that construction should begin by February 2004, a crucial date in the feng shui calendar. “A later construction date could have a very significant effect on the building’s energy.” But the monkey exhibit was delayed; it’s part of the new elephant habitat that was redesigned and enlarged under pressure from animal-rights activists. Nevertheless, Mainini hopes the project will retain as much good chi as possible. “One of the reasons I started studying feng shui was I could see the effect good feng shui could have on people’s well-being, in terms of health and happiness,” Mainini said. “I really hope my contribution to the project will help create a very supportive environment for these animals.” [email protected] (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s an amazing world. If you don’t take in all cultural considerations, you can strike out.” Believed to be the first zoo in the nation to tap the ancient Chinese science, Los Angeles paid $4,500 to a feng shui consultant to ensure that the three endangered monkeys will have health, happiness, fertility and, of course, a strong life-force energy, in their new digs. While feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is in demand among high-end architects and interior designers, Beverly Hills-based expert Simona Mainini said the trend hasn’t yet caught on in animal-enclosure design. “It’s very experimental. We don’t have any books on feng shui for monkeys. We just have to assume that Darwin is correct and that there is a connection and what is good for humans is good for monkeys.” “The idea is to get people beyond just looking at the animals so they experience how the animals and people live,” zoo General Manager John Lewis said. The Chinese art of feng shui – balance in design to promote health and happiness – is monkey business. At least that’s true at the Los Angeles Zoo, where a feng shui expert worked on a $7.4million enclosure for three rare golden monkeys set to debut next year. Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge, a big zoo booster whose district includes the facility, said he hopes the blue-faced monkeys with flowing California blond hair will feel right at home in their new exhibit. “I’d hate to have the monkeys get here and say: `Tom, you messed up. We’re going to San Francisco or San Diego,”‘ he quipped.