The Lunar New Year is to be celebrated on 8 February in China and across much of Asia. Each year is characterised by one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and this time it's the year of the monkey. This is great news for zoos and circuses that feature trained monkeys performing stunts to entertain audiences. Performances by exotic animals were banned by the Chinese government in 2012 but the ruling had little effect. Performing-monkey schools are training more animals than ever in the run-up to the Chinese New Year.

Shows involving monkeys – and even large apes such as chimpanzees and orangutans – are still popular in many Asian countries, such as China, South Korea and Thailand. Animal-rights campaigners are against the shows, arguing trainers get animals to perform tricks not with rewards but with cruel punishment. Young monkeys are usually taken away from their mothers and often subjected to physical and psychological harm.

In this gallery, we look at rehearsals for new year performing-monkey shows in several Chinese cities and South Korea.

China Year of the Monkey
A monkey looks up at a trainer backstage before a performance at a monkey training school at a zoo in Dongying, eastern China's Shandong provinceWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey shouts at a trainer during a sessionWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey rehearses for a New Year performanceWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey performs at a training schoolWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey peers out from its cage at the training school at a zoo in Dongying, eastern China's Shandong provinceWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
Trainers put nappies on monkeys before taking them for a walk at a zoo in DongyingWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
Monkeys wearing nappies are taken for a walk by their trainersWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey receives training before a performanceWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey waits to put on a costume before a performanceWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey touches a trainer's finger at a monkey training schoolWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
Monkeys perform at a theme park in Hangzhou, Zhejiang ProvinceChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
China Year of the Monkey
Monkeys stand on chairs during a performance ahead of the Chinese New Year of the MonkeyReuters
China Year of the Monkey
Monkeys are tied up during a performance ahead of the Chinese New Year of the MonkeyWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A man touches the head of a monkey during a performance ahead of the Chinese New Year of the Monkey in Hangzhou, Zhejiang provinceReuters
China Year of the Monkey
A monkey and a trainer perform onstage at a monkey training school at a zoo in DongyingWang Zhao/AFP
China Year of the Monkey
A trained monkey performns on an inflatable ball during a performance at Monkey School in Goyang, South KoreaKim Hong-ji/Reuters
China Year of the Monkey
A trained monkey rides a toy motorcycle past monkeys wearing Korean traditional costumes in GoyangKim Hong-ji/Reuters
China Year of the Monkey
A money is tied up while it waits to be photographed with children in GoyangKim Hong-ji/Reuters
China Year of the Monkey
Children pose for photographs with a trained monkey after a performance in Goyang, South KoreaKim Hong-ji/Reuters