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.