- Published: 03 December 2009
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Russell Lee Muse, age 11, Wichita. Kansas, for his question:
What animals live on Gibraltar?
Gilbraltar is at the southern tip of Spain and the mighty rock is connected to the mainland by a low causeway. The animals of Spain have been free to come and go between Gibraltar and the mainland since prehistoric days. For this reason, we would expect to find Spain's native wild animals in Gibraltar. However, the rock itself is rather barren and not many animals could make a living there.
The one exception is so remarkable that normal wild life is forgotten. Gibraltar is the home of the Barbary ape, the last monkey to survive in Europe in the wild state. Though called ape, this fellow is a macaque monkey, very bold and very smart.
Somebody, perhaps the Barbary ape himself, started the story that the British would control Gibraltar as long as these monkeys were allowed to live there. For a long time, the British took this story seriously. The apes were fed all they needed and they are still provided with free medical attention.