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:
- Euthanizing them.
- Selling them to manufacturers of dog food.
- Exporting them to researchers in other countries, including the U.S. which is currently heavily dependent on China for macaque research monkeys."The biomedical industry needs this source of non-endangered, safe, and virus-clean animals and the island needs to get rid of this major agricultural predator," explained Frank Ervin, former UCLA faculty member and professor emeritus at McGill University. "The monkeys get better care than I do," added lab veterinarian Ricaldo Pike.
- Spaying the females to control the population.