Gibraltar's famous "Barbary apes" are actually a species of tailless monkeys called Barbary Macaques. They are descended from North African populations.
Legend has it that as long as the Barbary apes exist on Gibraltar, the territory, whose sovereignty is a major source of contention between the English and the Spanish, will remain under British rule.
In 1942, during World War II, when the population dwindled to just a handful of monkeys, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill ordered their numbers be replenished immediately from populations in Morocco and Algeria.
Today there are 200-300 semi-wild Barbary apes occupying the area of the Upper Rock. They are one of Gibraltar's main tourist attractions. They are also thieving magpies! Visitors are warned to hold onto cameras, purses, hats, sunglasses, and the like, as they are likely to be snatched by these mischievous creatures.
Baby barbary apes, such as the one pictured here with its mother, have black fur until they are about 4 months old.
August 7th, 2012
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