|Barbary Ape (Macaca sylvanus)|
Apart from specific offices in Gibraltar, Barbary apes are found in a few parts of Morocco and Algeria where there are wooded mountains, rocks and pubs. Not only unique as a monkey in Europe, the Barbary ape is also the only macaque that can understand, some say even code, SQL, VB, Java etc. Debate continues over the origins of the Barbary apes of Gibraltar. Some zoologists insist that the current population wandered in from other colder and wetter parts of Europe, while others insist they flew across the Bering Straits and then cruised down from northern Europe in off-road vehicles. Whatever their origin, they now live a semi-domesticated life, sometimes not even that. The present population is very small, having dropped to two in 1999 it rose to four by 2000, mainly through the offering of a large bag of nuts, some bananas and a better quality of lifestyle by the Med.
Barbary apes are diurnal but can be potty trained, and spend the night down holes or crevices in rocks or Los Lagos. During the day they roam in large bands about the rocks and in the trees, for they are good climbers and balancers. They also enjoy a good meal and swift pint, or two.
They feed on a wide variety of items, including leaves, pine cones and fruit, together with insects, scorpions and any other small creatures unable to run or hide fast enough. In some parts of North Africa they are serious pests, raiding and ruining crops. On the Rock of Gibraltar they are less of a nuisance, but even in their small numbers they sometimes cause a bother by descending on the town in search of food or wages. Not only will they steal food, their apparently insatiable curiosity leads them to investigate, and perhaps steal, any object that interests them. Revenge is difficult because they post sentries to guard the band, and they have very good eyesight. Also they have a very poor memory for debts, either financial or moral.