Soviet-era monkey farm expecting Mars boom

The monkeys are probably less enthused about space travel: But who can say what monkeys really want?
The monkeys are probably less enthused about space travel: But who can say what monkeys really want?Courtesy RadioFan
Invest in the Abkhazian monkey industry! Because the derelict research monkey houses of this booming breakaway region of a breakaway region are about to take off! Literally!

No, not literally. Probably not at all. But that’s not stopping those monkey farmers from dreaming.

This is just an utterly bizarre article. I don’t think I can make it any funnier.

It’s about an all but abandoned primate research facility in Abkhazia, a breakaway region of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Back in its heyday, when the communists were really into monkey-related science, the facility was producing “groundbreaking medical research,” and breeding monkeys to send into space. Then, as some of you may have heard about, the USSR went belly up, and things went down hill fast at The Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy.

And then Abkhazia tried to break away from Georgia, and things went further downhill, possibly underground. During the ensuing civil war, “many monkeys were shot.” Others were just let out of their cages to just run around the city. From a prewar population of about 1,000, the facility houses only about 350 apes and monkeys now, not including “at least a few dozen monkeys… believed to be living in the wooded mountains of Abkhazia, descendants of a 1970s experiment where scientists released apes* into the wild.” Ok.

(*If you call me out on monkeys being descended from apes released in the 70s, you’re not my friend, because I’m not friends with people like that. It’s just what the article said.)

But wait! There’s more! Abkhazia recently got a new sugar daddy—the big bear, Mother Russia herself. And with fresh investment, the monkey research facility has some high hopes and big dreams. “Going to Mars?” they say. “Send some of our monkeys instead!”

Granted, the proposed Mars trips would take about a year and a half, and the institute’s best-known space monkey, a rhesus named Yerosha, went, you know, ape during a space trip just thirteen days long. (Yerosha freed a paw somehow, and started hitting buttons and generally messing stuff up. That darn monkey.)

They have a plan to avoid that sort of thing on the Mars mission, however: robots. Yes, as the article puts it, “the project would also include a robot designed to take care of the imprisoned ape.” The robot will feed the monkey and clean up after it. The real challenge, they say, is “to teach the monkey to cooperate with the robot.”

What? That’s the speed bump in the monkey+robot Mars flight plan? They have a point, I guess. Because monkeys are so used to human servants that a robotic butler in space might be a big conceptual jump for them.

Anyway, best of luck to you, Abkhazian monkey farmers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

the monky is awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Sat, 01/23/2010 - 2:19pm

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