Can monkeys form gangs and terrorize people? Just ask the residents of Gibraltar where a pack of 25 macaques have broken into hotels through open windows, vandalized rooms, and have been seen rummaging through garbage in the center of town. When I first read about this, I thought Judd Apatow was shooting a movie on the big rock and that the monkeys—teenagers no doubt—were “extras.” The more than 200 macaques on the island are a major tourist attraction in Gibraltar, but they also carry diseases like salmonella and herpes B-virus , which can be transmitted to humans, especially if the monkey bites you.

You can imagine what happens when tourists see these free-range monkeys. They feed them (duh)! And like most animals with any brains, the monkeys figure that the tourists have more where that came from. So they hit the hotels. Even though the tourists are to blame for the monkey’s sins, Gibraltar blames the victims. They intend to kill all 25 in the gang.

This has prompted an equally strong reaction from the International Primate Protection League, which is asking tourists to boycott Gibraltar. But before this situation gets completely out of control, I have a few suggestions for the office of tourism.

For starters, has anyone ever heard of window guards? Even a squirrel couldn’t get through the ones in my high rise building. Next, the monkey caretakers should create a kind of “community center” for the little dears. You know, a place where monkeys can go and just be monkeys? They could build a playground with “monkey bars,” and other exercise equipment; hold weekly events like bingo night; host annual Bloomsday picnics; and encourage team games like pin the tail on the minister of tourism.

If that doesn’t calm the gang of 25 down, they could go for the obvious: anger management classes.

Macaques may seem like thugs, but many have been oppressed and exploited, too. Like others of their species, they’re caged and used in medical experiments. Or they’re captured and sold as exotic pets to people who shouldn’t be allowed to own them. Maybe that’s why the females tend to sell themselves for sex, and the males (think of them as Johns of the Jungle), willingly pay the price. According to a study led by Michael David Gumert of Hiram College and published in Animal Behavior, after the males performed a grooming ritual on the females, “sexual activity more than doubled: from an average of 1.5 times an hour to 3.5 times an hour.” Hmmm. Haven’t we been looking for a drug-free way to increase our sexual satisfaction? Instead of killing the macaques, let’s study their techniques and throw away our Viagra.


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