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Sunday, June 6, 1999 Published at 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK


No more monkey business for Rock apes

The apes are part of the folklore of Gibraltar

The famous population of apes on the Rock of Gibraltar is growing out of control and may have to be put on the contraceptive pill.

Numbers have soared from a steady 70 or 80 to as many as 250 on the tiny British overseas territory.

[ image: Rock apes on the pill?]
Rock apes on the pill?
A cull of more than 20 barbary apes and the export of another 20 to a German zoo has failed to stem the rising numbers.

The animals have damaged property and even attacked people on the Mediterranean colony.

The apes have a place in Gibraltar's folklore - with legend saying the colony would cease to be British if they no longer lived there.

The myth was taken seriously enough by Winston Churchill for him to order the importation of extra apes to Gibraltar during WWII.

But now the colony's Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, says something has to be done.

Mr Caruana said: "They are out of control.

"We have had them climbing through bedroom window and even molesting children in the streets."

He said research was being carried out by an expert at Zurich University on behalf of the Gibraltar Government to see if the population could be controlled with contraceptive drugs.

"Mind you, putting them on the pill could upset our large Catholic population, " Mr Caruana joked.

"It cost us about £25,000 to send the 20 to Germany.

"It would have been cheaper if we had flown them by British Airways, strapped into first class seats."

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05 Jun 99†|†Europe
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