“ It is the only primate that lives in Europe today (apart from man, of course) where a small colony exists on the Rock of Gibraltar. Moreover the welfare of this colony is guarded by the British Army, aided by a subsistence allowance from civil funds. „
We visited Gibraltar last week and really regret not having set aside more time to take it all in. The truth is, we bought tickets to go up the cable car and were so distracted by the Barbary Apes when we got there, we didn't get an awful lot else done! It's an amazing sight for an animal lover, to be so close to these monkeys without them being penned in and caged. When we visited, mid July, there were at least three babies in the main group of apes nearest to the cable car terminal. They were unbelievably cute and had everyone's undivided attention. The main things to remember when you encounter the apes is not to be too noisy or get too close and not to pull faces at them-any of these could be interpreted as a threat. Keep quiet though and they will walk around you and come quite close without a second thought. My husband even had two of the babies untying his shoelaces and swinging from his shorts!! Unfortunately there were some tourists who got too close or screeched when they came near and would scare them off for a while, but for the most part the apes are very used to humans and you will find that some will jump on your back. Don't be alarmed, this is due to the fact that despite constant reminders not to feed the apes, taxi drivers doing tours ofthe rock will feed them nuts in order to have them climb on their clients shoulders for photographs. Therefore some of them will do it at random in the hope of a treat! We wish we could have spent all day on the rock, hanging out with the apes, it was well worth the ticket price-you can buy tickets in advance at Gibraltar.info website and I highly recommend it if you're in the Cadiz/Andalucia regions. We went later in the day and so perhaps had the apes to ourselves a little more
If you ever find yourself in Gibraltar, don't touch the monkeys... Gibraltar is famous for many things, but perhaps the most popular amongst tourists is its colony of Barbary Macaque's. Often incorrectly refered to as 'Apes' (including here in dooyoo's heading), the animals are actually monkeys - Macaca sylvanus. My first sight of a barbary macaque was a fairly amusing one - chasing and subsequently leaping onto a sandwich-carrying American tourist who was utterly terrified. The monkey seemed to be relishing the chase, whilst expectantly eyeing the snack which he was soon to eat. Now, the man-chasing, tailless fur-balls are (for the most part) calm, intelligent animals who enjoy nothing more than sitting in the sun, and occasionally looking for a stolen meal. However, upset them and they will reveal a rather large set of fangs, and emit a loud disturbing howl. It is recommended that if a monkey jumps onto you, it is important to stay calm - the chances are it will just be interested in sifting through your pockets for any items of food that you may have on you, and will probably have a go at pinching your bag. What you should absolutely, positively NEVER do, is get frantic and try to knock it off - otherwise you may well end up with a nasty bite (as some friends of mine did a few years back). I witnessed a tourist wearing mirror shades, looking at one of the macaques, and when the monkey saw its own reflection, it lashed out and ultimately destroyed the guys expensive looking sunglasses - so be careful with your personal belongings also. Even though the monkeys of Gibraltar are generally classed as wild, a vet regularly checks them over to ensure their good health. On my visit a couple of weeks ago, I saw one monkey carrying a stillborn baby and caring for it as if still alive. Although it was an upsetting sight, our guide explained that when the vet arrived, the mother would be anaesthetized, and the child taken away. To get to the area in which the monkeys are located, you'll either need to travel on the cable car - or, as I did, take a trip with one of the tour-guides who are usually waiting in number to transport you up the steep and winding road, one and a half thousand feet to the summit. There is a charge to enter the area where the majority of the monkeys congregate, but this is normally covered in a 20 - 25Euro trip which also includes entry to the beautiful St Michael's Caves, and the war-time siege tunnels which are embedded deep into the rock. The mokeys of Gibraltar make for an entertaining spectacle, and represent the last Barbary Macaque population in the whole of the Europe. They really are beautiful animals and it's certainly worth a paying them a visit.
The Barbary Apes are a species of tailess Macaques. They can be found in Morocco and Algeria. The ones living in Gibraltar are the only free-living ones in Europe. There are around 160 living in Gibraltar. If you see them pouting, it's a sign for you to keep your distance. And if you see them chattering their teeth, it means they are calming down and making up after a confrontation. I was told not to reach out and touch them, as you could frighten or annoy them. But, let them come to you, which they very well may do! I had one pounce on my head from behind. Little did I know this, until he/she was on me! The males live from 15 - 17 years, and the females live up to the age of 18 - 22 years. Every birth and death is recorded, and each ape is given an official name when born. The females usually give birth in the summer time. I saw a mum carrying her baby on her back. How sweet! They spend around 30% of their day mixing with visitors, but if you look in the trees and cliffs, you will probably spot more. The Government of Gibraltar is responsible for them. It really is a memorable experience going up to the top of the rock to see them. If you are like me, and love monkeys, then you will enjoy every minute of it! There is a charge for going up the rock and also going into the caves and seige tunnels. Although, I am unsure of the price, and I was with my family, and was lucky enough to have someone pay for me! There is a cable car which can take you up the top, or you can get a cab up there. It is advisable NOT to take your own car up there, as the roads are very steep and windy.
If you're considering a holiday to Gibraltar, or even just a day trip there from Spain, a trip up to the Rock of Gibraltar is definetely a must. The most popular tourist attraction up here is the Barbary Apes, that live and breed on the Rock. Be careful if you have children though, don't let them (or yourselves!) tormont the apes as they CAN get aggressive and have been known to pinch tourist's handbags and their shiny new cameras (believe me I know) and don't feed them either. Don't forget that you're entering into their home territory, how would you like it if the roles were reversed! There's more that just the Apes though. Up the rock you'll fine a Nature Reserve with beautiful species of wildlife, there's a plaque where Queen Elizabeth stood when she looked out over Gibraltar. And you can visit the cannons and ancient battle-machines, used in defeating the Spaniards many years ago. No doubt you'll be feeling tired after all that - no problem. There are a variety of resturants and cafes up the Rock of Gibraltar, I personally recommend The Cavern (beside St. Michael's Cave). Here you can also stock up on souveniers. I visit Gibraltar every year, as I have family living over there. During this time I've made a few observatiosn that may be useful to readers of this article: - If at all possible, drive yourself up the rock. You'll find many taxis on Main Street that are all willing to let you "SEE Gibraltar", but they usually charge over the odds for this. -When you cross the border into Gibraltar, people may try and charge you an "entrance fee". This is NOT needed, these people are doing this illegally and are constantly being hunted down by the Gib police. Well that's it. Hope this has been usefull to all you visiting Gibraltar and going up the Rock. I personally recommend it for a fantastic family day out. I may well write more reivews/opinions about Gibraltar, if anyone is interested in this th en by all means leave a comment.
It is the only primate that lives in Europe today (apart from man, of course) where a small colony exists on the Rock of Gibraltar. Moreover the welfare of this colony is guarded by the British Army, aided by a subsistence allowance from civil funds.