Gibraltar’s Barbary Apes Are a Part of the Territory’s Tourist Attractions:
You wouldn’t travel any distance just to see some apes, but visitors to the Rock of Gibraltar always find themselves captivated by the Barbary apes here. The apes are a part of Gibraltar’s tourist attractions and they do a pretty good job in keeping visitors amused.
Our first encounter with a Gibraltar Barbary ape was at the observation deck at the Top of the Rock. We took the cable car to the Upper Rock station and as we climbed the spiral staircase to the top, there was a Barbary ape stationed at the top of the staircase. It sat there in a meditative pose, allowing visitors to pose and take snaps of it. After fifteen minutes or so, it climbed down from the pillar and another ape came and took its place, almost like a changing of the guard. It was amusing to watch them.
There are about 160 of these Barbary apes on the Rock of Gibraltar. You can see them at two main locations. There are about twenty of them at the Apes’ Den (near Queen’s Gate). Here you can watch them at close quarters – young male and female apes can often be seen playing together and sometimes getting up to mischievous acts, including ripping up stuff that they’ve managed to grab from tourists. They are vulnerable, so please keep your distance! Near the Great Siege Tunnels, if you look carefully at the cliff and trees, you will probably spot some more.
Free-Roaming Barbary Macaques
Gibraltar’s famous Barbary Apes are the only free-roaming primates in Europe. The Apes are a species of tailless monkeys called Barbary Macaques and they can also be found in Morocco and Algeria. They spend over 30% of their day interacting with visitors but do remember that they are still
The Barbary apes are cared for by the Ministry for the Environment and the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society. They are fed fresh food every day and visitors are asked not to feed them. In fact, the sign at the cable car station warns that there is a £500 fine for feeding them.
But the Barbary apes of Gibraltar are more than just tourist attractions. According to a legend, if the Apes leave Gibraltar it will cease to be British.