Thursday, October 6, 2011

Drunken monkey meat

The vervet monkeys on the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts & Nevis (1st image, with trapper Joe Cadey) are in the weird news for the 2nd time. They were featured on BBC's "Weird Nature" in 2009 (video here) because they took a liking to fermented sugar cane when they were brought over from West Africa 300 years ago and now they steal drinks from tourists (2nd image) to get drunk. Now they have resurfaced in the headlines as the islanders weigh their options for controlling the vervet population, estimated at 25,000 or more. The monkeys will eat anything - chicken, eggs, squash, yams, cucumbers, mangoes, sea grapes, leaves and vines, flowers, bugs, and even fiery hot peppers - and are devastating gardens and farms. What's more, they have grown bolder and stronger. "They're getting more muscular. I've seen males with six-pack abs," says agricultural supervisor Randy Elliott of the monkeys, which can grow to 2' (.61m) tall and weigh 12lbs (5kg). The following proposals, each of which require trapping the monkeys, are being considered:
Perhaps the least palatable idea, considering that officials are nervous about upsetting animal-rights activists and wary of angering the tolerant tourists, is to simply slaughter vervets for human consumption. Joseph Kelly, a resident in his 60s, leans toward eating the creatures: "When you skin it you'd be surprised at how much meat some of those monkeys have on their bones. Cook it up in a stew, well, it's very nice, very flavorful. Tastes a lot like goat. Why, I'd like some right now."

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