If people hold something dear, they might say that wild horses couldn’t tear it from them, but you’ll notice they don’t often make the same claim about wild monkeys. Patrons at the London Zoo are discovering the hard way that their fashion sunglasses aren’t safe from the grasping paws of young Bolivian squirrel monkeys.
At least seven pairs of sunglasses have been stolen so far. “We’ve found Ray-Bans and aviator sunglasses already and with more good weather approaching we think it’s a good idea to train the monkeys not to pinch people’s sunglasses,” says Mammals South Team Leader, Tracey Lee.
This isn’t the first time visitors to the zoo have had to keep a close eye on their belongings. Back in 2006, the Bolivian monkeys had to be trained not to steal people’s cell phones, which produced sounds and flashes of light that proved intriguing to the furry little primates. For the monkeys, the appeal of the fashion sunglasses they filch lies in getting a chance to gaze at their own reflections.
Since the monkeys are averse to sour flavors so the zookeepers are trying to wean them off kleptomania by coating cheap plastic sunglasses in something called “bitter apple.” The hope is that the monkeys will come to associate the unpleasant taste with the sunglasses and mend their thieving ways.