These monkeys live on a giant rock called Gibraltar, which is a part of the mainland of Spain, here on the Iberian Peninsula but it’s right on the very tip and it actually belongs to Britain. Back when the world would fight wars with like big countries fighting each other, this place was very strategic for Britain. They have all these military assets up here that are a holdover from when they had this whole place decked out and militarized for war. Gibraltar, the town of 30,000 people has a really weird feel to it. It is Spanish, kind of, kind of feel Spanish, you know it’s kind of sun-soaked and things like that. But it’s totally British at the same time. It’s abnormal, it’s extraordinary.
To add to the strangeness, there are monkeys here. These monkeys are a part of the Barbary macaques species. They’re the only primates living in the wild here in Europe, besides humans. The monkeys have been here for no-one knows how long. They’re indigenous to northern Africa, but you’ll notice that there is a large body of water called the Mediterranean Sea in between this place and Africa so no one really knows how they got over here. There’s a lot of theories and legends. Some people say pirates brought them over in like the 14th century from Morocco, some people think they came across like thousands of years ago, but there’s been a lot of digging on this rock and there’s really no evidence that that’s the case.
One thing I love about these monkeys is that the male’s play a huge role in raising the infants. In fact all sexes and all ages are involved in the raising of children. I respect that. So, there’s actually a problem with these monkeys in Morocco being exploited for tourism. When they eat food that is given to them by humans, or are subject to having photos taken of them all day, it can cause some really bad and psychological outcomes for monkeys. What the people in Gibraltar have tried to do is basically ban anyone from feeding them. This guy found food on his own. And they’ve also trained the monkeys, they’ve almost domesticated them in a way to where interaction with humans is not psychologically stressful. That being said, they are the biggest tourist attraction of Gibraltar. And of course during World War Two this place was bombed everyone had to flee, but the monkeys have stuck around. The British Army actually took the monkeys under their wing and actually had in their budget, nuts and berries and apples for the monkeys. So while the whole global empire, strategic value of this place is long gone, there still is value for Britain to have this place.
So much of the world’s trade comes through this little bit of water between Europe and Africa, and Gibraltar is situated right here on and strait. There’s actually weird superstition that has made it into politics. Some British people have thought in the past, that as long as the monkey stay here Britain will for sure have control. After World War Two, Winston Churchill reportedly heard that because of the bombing and things there were only seven monkeys left, and because of this superstition he ordered that the monkey population be replenished. So this place is strategic, it probably will stay strategic in some ways and Britain has no plan to give it back to Spain. The Borders documentaries are finally launching.
Up until now I’ve been making these dispatches, just little videos while I’ve been traveling, but all of this has been to build six documentaries. I’m going to be publishing the first borders documentary on October 17th, and then publishing weekly thereafter on Tuesdays. The videos are going to be publishing on Facebook and YouTube, and if you don’t want to miss the updates on when they publish, you can sign up for the newsletter, which I’m putting the link down in the description.
Really excited to share these with you, you should tune back October 17th to watch the first one..
As found on Youtube