World famous, and perhaps Gibraltar's most important tourist attraction.
The Barbary Apes, Macaca Sylvanus, are actually tail-less monkeys and they are the only free-roaming monkeys in Europe.
Natives of North Africa, their presence in Gibraltar probably dates from the early days of the British garrison when it is presumed that they were imported as pets or even game, inevitably finding the rough limestone cliffs and scrub vegetation a congenial habitat.
In fact, many legends have grown up around them. One is that they travelled from their native Morocco via a subterranean tunnel starting at St Michael's Cave leading down underneath the strait.
The fact is that the apes are firmly established on the Rock. Another legend claims that should the apes ever disappear, the British will leave Gibraltar.
During the last war, natural causes diminished the ape numbers alarmingly, and they were in danger of extinction on the Rock. Fortunately, Sir Winston Churchill took a personal interest and additional animals were imported from Morocco. Today, in addition to the pack resident at Apes Den, there are five other packs living wild on the steep slopes of the Rock.
The welfare of the Barbary Apes is now in the hands of the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society and the R.S.P.C.A.
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