Real apes are up to much more than their costumed counterparts in Hollywood’s new version of “Planet of the Apes,” which took in a record-breaking $70 million over the weekend.
Romance, high jinks, ruthless behavior — there’s real monkey media business afoot.
Last Thursday, for example, chimpanzees went the redial route.
Chippy, an 11-year old chimp who lives in Scotland’s Blair Drummond Safari Park, managed to swipe a cell phone from ape keeper Gary Gilmour’s jacket during the ape area dinner hour.
Mr. Gilmour was clueless about the caper; Chippy, in turn, retreated to his bed and proceeded to call every number stored in the phone’s memory.
For three days.
Park employees were awakened in the dead of night, they were jangled on their lunch hour and other inopportune moments.
“When they shouted ‘hello’ several times they didn’t get any reply and you can imagine how annoying that is,” Mr. Gilmour told the British press, who billed the incident as “Cheeky chimp Chippy’s chatline,” among other things.
Park officials were about to call the police until Chippy did what any normal cell phone user would do if he can’t reach his party.
The keeper on the other end of the line recognized the voice and the mystery — which by now had assumed Sherlock Holmesian dimensions — was solved.
“He realized he was talking to a chimp,” Mr Gilmour explained.
A search ensued and Chippy was busted with three other chimps in their enclosure on park grounds. The phone in question was found hidden in Chippy’s bed.
“We just thought what a clever wee devil he was,” Mr. Gilmour said, adding, “Thank God the phone only contained the numbers of my colleagues.”
And like anyone who loses their cell phone, Chippy went into a morose funk. Mr. Gilmour plans to buy him a fake one.
But wait. Primates around the globe seem to be hogging the news recently.
Last week, police officers in India reported that a “monkey gang” had terrorized the campus of Loreta College in Darjeeling. An “alcoholic monkey” has been up to no good in the city of Calcutta as well, according to the newspaper Asian Age.
France, on the other hand, is troubled by ape criminals. French officials also reported last week that Barbary apes have become the attack animal of choice among gang members in Paris, replacing Rottweilers and pit bulls in the bizarre arsenals of young toughs and drug dealers.
Police have already counted over 500 of them in the city.
“They carry them like babies,” one officer said.
The National Geographic, meanwhile, reported July 19 that male gorillas have established a “pick-up joint” at one watering hole in the Congo, intent on wooing their lady friends with well-timed belly-flops and much splashing.
The area has become “a great place to check out females,” according to researcher Richard Parnell of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.
Racy doings were also reported by ABC on Friday during an expose on the elaborate love-making habits of the bonobo monkey, described by a reporter as “hairy little Hugh Hefners.”
“The bonobos are the free-sex hippies of the animal world,” a primatologist noted during the report.
Phones, crime, alcohol, sex — the primates seem to have it all, including an interest in sports. Last but not least, the international press became fixated upon a chimpanzee who had taken up tennis after watching recent Wimbledon matches on a TV placed near his cage in an English zoo.
The chimp, at the Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, continues to work on his game, apparently.
“He hasn’t served properly, or hit the backhand well,” noted keeper Marcus Smith. “But his technique is getting better.”