Zoo Officials In Finland Explain Reason Behind ‘Buff’ Monkey’s Appearance

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Earlier this month, a “buff” female monkey drew attention on social media for her appearance, which, as noted by publications such as News.com.au, made her look like she had been “[seriously] working out” in a similar fashion to an average human bodybuilder. However, officials from the Finnish zoo where the monkey is being kept in captivity recently commented on the animal’s appearance and explained that the creature isn’t as ripped as observers might have thought.

In an email to Live Science, zookeeper Merja Wahlroos of the Helsinki Zoo explained that Bea, the so-called “buff” white-faced saki monkey, could indeed be in the “bigger end of the scale” as far as the species is concerned. But as her colleagues explained last week in a separate tweet, Bea’s muscular appearance is on account of her thick fur, rather than any “rigorous” weightlifting or protein shake consumption, as the outlet quipped while citing the post.

The image of Bea that eventually went viral was taken by Finnish photographer Santeri Oksanen, who told Live Science that he had originally visited the Helsinki Zoo last month to “practice” taking wildlife pictures. He added that it turned out he visited at just the right time, as the monkey was striking an “epic pose” while studying the area and flashing a serious expression.

“I couldn’t believe the huge muscles that the monkey had. The others were very small in comparison, they all looked a bit scared of her,” Oksanen remarked previously, as quoted by News.com.au.

“The pictures make it look like it’s competing in a bodybuilding contest.”

While it’s unclear how saki monkeys, in general, behave in the wild, males of the species usually dominate small groups in captive populations, which typically consist of small groups of four individuals. As Wahlroos related to Live Science, it’s also possible for saki monkeys to form larger groups of up to 12 individuals that consist of both males and females, and in Bea’s case, it isn’t unusual either for females of the species to assert leadership over their captive group.

Despite the tendency that many animals have to make themselves look larger than they really are by fluffing their fur or feathers, Live Science noted that saki monkeys usually do not display aggressive behaviors toward each other. The aforementioned gesture of fluffing is generally a defense mechanism against would-be predators, but in Bea’s case, the Helsinki Zoo’s Wahlroos further explained that her actions might have been an example of her showing off to the rest of the group. She added that it’s also possible that Bea could have “enhanced” her tough appearance by “vigorously” shaking a branch.