In today’s WTF news, AP is reporting that Puerto Rico plans to ship its surplus of wild monkeys to Iraq. The plan was actually put in place for a reasonably good cause (although the monkeys and animal activists may disagree). The U.S. military recently has spent more than $2.15 million to revive the Baghdad Zoo, which collapsed after the 2003 invasion when looters stole or freed almost every animal. So The Baghdad Zoo turned to Puerto Rico, which has been trying to rid itself of the estimated 2,000 patas and rhesus monkeys that have taken a toll on wildlife and agriculture in the Lajas Valley since escaping from nearby research centers 30 years ago.
"We will give them all the monkeys they want," said Sgt. Angel Atienza, a ranger with the department. "We don't have a problem with that."
But animal welfare activists say the animals are not necessarily safe in Iraq. "In the middle of the war, animals are the least of anyone's concern," said Lisa Wathne, spokeswoman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "It's just reckless and insensitive to send these monkeys, who will be caged, helpless and completely dependent on humans to survive, to such a hazardous area."
Puerto Rico Natural Resources Secretary Daniel Galan said he believes the Baghdad Zoo is stable and has qualified zookeepers to care for the monkeys. He added that officials have been pleading with zoos in the U.S. and across the world. But of the roughly 90 zoos contacted, only a handful have accepted and agreed to pay the shipping costs.