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Monkey World News

Seeking a herbal remedy? Watch the monkeys

The Mail


WHAT do you do when a woolly monkey gets the collywobbles? Answer: Absolutely nothing. These amazing animals Which suffer the same sort of ailments as people, sort out their own medical problems. When a woolly feels woozy it seems to diagnose its illness. prescribe a herbal remedy and find a pick-me-up without any help from humans. And, when the creatures are in a strange environment away from the healthy herbs of which they seem to have inherited knowledge they can sniff out substitutes to suit their medical needs. me medicinal miracle was spotted by staff at Monkey World, in Dorset, which looks after stricken primates fmm around the world many rescued from illegal pet traders. The highly-strung woolly monkeys, which come from the Amazon Basin in South America instinctively tuck into camomile from the rescue centre's herb garden when they are feeling stressed. They seek out yarrow for female problems and those with indigestion choose fennel or mint. The herbs do not grow in the monkeys' native habitat. Many are genetically related to plants that do, but the animals are a so prpoving partial to entirely new ones such as rosehip and garlic, which fight off infection. Alison Cronin, senior scientific director at Monkey World - which won the 1998 Animal Welfare Award for its woolly monkey enclosure believes they use trial and error to find the best remedies. They then seem to pass on their new-found knowledge to the rest of their group and to their offspring. Woolly monkeys measure 12 inches from head to rump and have long tails which the) use as a fifth limb. They get their name from their dark grey, woolly coats. Ms Cronin said the idea of planting a herb garden in the monkeys' enclosure followed success with a similar project in the Netherlands. The Centre is now planning gardens for its chimpanzees, orangutans and lemurs. The natural remedies growing in them will include haethorn thorn, which helps the circulation, passion flower and lemon balm, both sedatives tormentil and bilberry for diarrhoea and common nasturtium and barberry, which act as antibiotics. Ms Cronin said 'Really we are taking our lead from the animals to see which plant species prove to be the most therapeutic. We swap different herbs in and out of the gardens at will - their roots are protected by mesh so that we can change them. There is well-documented evidence of apes using herbs in the wild mainly the chimpanzees. A lot of wild animals use the plant life in their environment to assist them. We put a lot of herbs out there that the monkeys don't necessarily just like to eat. 'We know, for example, they like the taste of garlic, and that they eat those herbs selectively on certain days.'

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