Monkey kingdom

Illustration by Jonny Wan An hour’s drive from Kunming in southwestern China, past red clay embankments and sprawling forests, lies an unusual zoo. Inside the gated compound is a quiet, idyllic campus; a series of grey, cement animal houses stack up on the lush hillside, each with a clear plastic roof to let in the light. This is the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research, and its inhabitants are some 1,500 monkeys, all bred for research. The serenity of the facility belies the bustle of activity within. Since it opened in 2011, this place has quickly become a Mecca for cutting-edge primate research, producing valuable disease models and seminal publications that have made its director, Ji Weizhi, a sought-after collaborator. Its campus houses a collection of gene-edited monkeys that…


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