Monkey-masked men hired by Indian officials

New Delhi government officials have hired 40 young men to wear monkey masks and jump around outside the parliament buildings in an attempt to scare off macaques wreaking havoc on the grounds. From the AFP:

imagesThe NDMC, the body tasked with providing civic services, said the men were “very talented” and had been trained to “closely copy” the noises and actions of the more aggressive langurs to scare away the smaller rhesus macaques.

“They often wear a mask on their faces, hide behind the trees and make these noises to scare away the simians,” NDMC chairman Jalaj Srivastava told AFP.

China trains monkey soldiers

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China's air force has trained macaques to fight off birds nesting at an air base. The risk is that birds could interfere with the planes' engines. According to a CNN translation of a post on the People's Liberation Army Air Force site, "The monkeys are loyal bodyguards who defend the safety of our comrades."

Lindsey Carr's aristocratic monkey paintings

Monkeye

Opening tonight at Seattle's Roq La Rue Gallery, Lindsey Carr's "La Petite Singerie," a wonderful collection of aristocratic primate portraits. Also hanging, Marco Mazzoni's "Naturama" sketchbook pages and pen drawings of animals. View the artwork online!

Bikini model photographed by a chimpanzee in a kimono, 1963

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(@History_Pics via John Curley)

Women, sex, and monkeys: what primatology can teach us about female desire

"With primatology, science has refused to see that females are the aggressors, the rulers, the initiators of sex. For so long, almost to a humorous extent, we have looked right past the truth; which is that the females are leaving their young, they're objectifying their mates, they're the agents of desire. The psychologist had to keep getting rid of his male monkeys because the females got bored with them!" A snip from Zoe Williams's Guardian piece on Daniel Bergner, author of What Do Women Want?, a new book about female sexual desire.

Book about woman raised by monkeys

Last fall, I posted about Marina Chapman of Braford, England who claims that as a young girl she was raised by monkeys. Chapman says that when she was four-year-old, she was kidnapped from her Colombia home and dumped in the jungle where she spent five years in the care of capuchin monkeys. Eventually, hunters found her and swapped her at a brothel for a parrot. Chapman, now in her early 60s, has written a new book about her experience. It's titled "The Girl With No Name: The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys." From The Guardian:

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In one of the most memorable sections of the book, she describes how she got terrible food poisoning from tamarind, and thought she was going to die. She was writhing in agony when an elderly monkey, which she now calls Grandpa, led her to muddy water. She drank the water, vomited and began to recover. After that, she says, the young monkeys befriended her. Marina observed them closely, and learned from them: how to climb trees, what was safe to eat, how to clean herself. She soon discovered that if she stood underneath monkeys carrying armfuls of bananas, they would inevitably drop a couple, and if she was quick enough she could grab them for herself. Over time, she says, the monkeys allowed her to sit in the trees with them. When they were away looking for food, she'd become lonely and would anxiously await their return…

Marina is sure she wouldn't have survived without the monkeys – thought to be capuchins, which are known to be well disposed towards humans. It was only when they "adopted" her that she began to feel a sense of hope. Did they mother her? "They were just tolerating at first. They don't really love you. One day one of the younger ones landed on my shoulders, and if you've never been hugged in your life, and this animal climbs over your shoulders and puts their hands on your face, I tell you it's the nicest touch." She smiles.

The Girl With No Name: The Incredible True Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys (Amazon)

"Was Marina Chapman really brought up by monkeys?" (The Guardian)

A brief history of space monkeys and spies

In the late 1950s, American scientists very publicly readied a crew of monkeys for a series of trips into Earth orbit and back. As far as the researchers knew, Project Discoverer was an actual, honest-to-Ike peaceful scientific program. Naturally, they were wrong about that. In reality, their work was part of an elaborate cover-up masking a spy satellite program. At The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson reports on some fascinating space history.

Monkey Room cocktail menu


Here's a cocktail menu from the Monkey Room, a drinking establishment once ensconced in Spokane, WA's Sillman Hotel. What a lovely piece of design, and what a deadly collection of concoctions.

cocktail menu from Monkey Room, Sillman Hotel - Spokane, WA (Thanks, Frycook!)

Wild monkeys and boars enlisted to help measure Fukushima radiation in Japan

Many challenges remain in measuring radiation leaked from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, after a devastating quake and tsunami 9 months ago left that site crippled. The crowdsourced efforts of a DIY tech group called Safecast were the subject of a report I produced with Miles O'Brien for NewsHour; other projects to capture this badly-needed data have been led by young mothers.

Today, a story is circulating about a group of researchers from Japan's Fukushima University who plan to enlist the help of wild monkeys, and maybe wild boars, to monitor radiation starting in Spring of 2012.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Researchers from Fukushima University plan to kit wild monkeys out with radiation-measuring collars to track the contamination levels deep in the forests, where it’s difficult for humans to go. (...) The monkey collars are geared with a small radiation-measuring device, a GPS system and an instrument that can detect the monkey’s distance from the ground as the radiation level is being tallied. Mr. Takahashi said more contraptions may be added, but these will be the three main ones.

So, it sounds like they'll capture the critters, tranquilize them, attach the devices, then free them again back in the wild to roam around and passively gather/transmit readings.

CNN reports that veterinarian Toshio Mizoguchi of the Fukushima Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (run by the regional government) came up with the idea. He wanted to find a way to observe the effect of radiation on the wild animals near Fukushima.

The researchers will first focus on the mountains near Minamisoma city, about 25 kilometers/16 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Some 14 monkey colonies are known to inhabit this area. Minamisoma city and its mayor Katsunobo Sakurai became "internet-famous" when the mayor posted a desperate appeal for help on YouTube.

During our reporting trip to Japan, I went with Miles to interview mayor Sakurai, by the way -- the interview didn't make it into our NewsHour piece, but man, he was really a fascinating character. Apparently things have not been easy for him personally or politically since.

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