The Atlantic

Rescuing Puerto Rico's Monkey Island

After a unique macaque colony off the island's coast was hit by Hurricane Maria, its caretakers are rushing to save it—and themselves.
Source: Laurie Santos

Off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, barely a kilometer from the mainland, lies the tiny island of Cayo Santiago. Its 38 acres, shaped like a lowercase r, are home to some unexpected residents—a troop of around 1,000 rhesus macaque monkeys.

Rhesus macaques typically live half a world away in Southeast Asia. But after 406 of them were shipped over in 1938, they quickly took to Caribbean life, and thrived. So did the scientists who work with them. The island has become something of a destination for primatologists. It’s so small, and the monkeys so plentiful and habituated, that even though they are fully wild creatures, they are very easy to track and observe. The last time I spoke to someone on the island—James Higham from New York University—he was standing a few meters away from a female and a male,

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