Gibraltar Barbary Macaques by Gibraltar Rock Tours
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The Absolute stars of the Show!
We treasure our monkeys or also known as The Gibraltar Barbary Ape, so when you visit Gibraltar you just cannot leave the The Rock without paying them a visit. They are known to be the highlight of very Rock Tour our monkeys (which most say aren´t monkeys but are) roam freely on the Rock of Gibraltar.
Well to be precise, the apes are a species of tailless monkeys called Barbary macaques. These can be found in Morocco and Algeria, but those in Gibraltar are the only wild monkeys in Europe today.
There are about 160 – 200 monkeys living in Gibraltar in two main areas. About 20 or so of them at Apes’ Den and can be observed very close up. Some right at the top of the Rock, some can be seen outside St. Michael´s cave too. However, the largest pack resides in the Great Siege area.
All areas are on the upper Rock, but sometimes they do come down into the town area, which always causes a bit of a stir! They are so funny and entertaining to watch and it´s very so different to see them out of cages like you would normally in many zoos around the world.
The Males live for about 15 to 17 years and females can live from 18 to 22 years. Site management records every birth and death and each ape is given an official name. In 1915 the government provided funds for the Army to feed the apes
The monkeys are currently managed by the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS), and veterinarian expertise is provided by the Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic. The macaques receive a daily supply of fresh water and vegetables, fruit and seeds as supplement to natural food resources (leaves, olives, roots, seeds and flowers). The animals are caught on a regular basis to check their health status. Additionally, body size, weight and several other measurements are taken. Finally, the animals are given a tattoo number and a microchip as a means of identification. But tattoos are not the only way to recognise individual macaques; many of them have particular marks, scars or spots which can be used as distinguishing features. All monkeys are photographed and the pictures and individual characteristics are catalogued. All Cataloguing work is carried out by the GONHS.
In October 2014, the Government of Gibraltar announced that it would export 30 of the monkeys to a safari park in Scotland, the press said they were being troublesome!
The monkeys are very used to people, so you can get quite close to them. Some may even approach you and climb on top of you but please do not touch them; monkeys will bite if frightened or annoyed. Careful with your belongings too, they like to steal what they can.
They spend over 30% of their day interacting with visitors, but remember that they are still semi-wild animals. They need time to rest and be monkeys !!
The macaque population had been present on the Rock of Gibraltar long before Gibraltar was captured by the British in 1704 and according to records, since prior to reconquest of Gibraltar from the Muslims.
Even famous people come to visit our monkeys, On 11th May 1954, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the ape packs while on a visit to Gibraltar. A photograph captured the Queen feeding a Barbary ape while the Duke of Edinburgh stood next to the ape-keeper.
A popular belief is that as long as Gibraltar Barbary macaques exist on Gibraltar, the territory will remain under British rule. In 1942 (during World War II), after the population dwindled to just a handful (just seven monkeys), British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered their numbers be replenished immediately from forest fragments in both Morocco and Algeria because of this traditional belief.
Another story links Gibraltar to Africa by a subterranean passage over 15 miles (24 km) long which begins at Lower St. Michael’s Cave and passes under the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Gibraltar Barbary macaques entered The Rock from Morocco this way.
We are so proud of our monkeys we even have them on our coins.
So check your change when buying something on the Rock and keep one of the 5p they make a great souvenir!
As always, I take this opportunity to invite you to send us an email and book a tour with us, Gibraltar Rock Tours we will show you our beautiful Rock and oh and I nearly forgot thanks for reading!