Stolen from Paradise
The monkeys of St. Kitts & Nevis
The twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis is known for beautiful scenery and a more relaxed atmosphere than elsewhere in the Caribbean. Tourists returning from visiting the islands often have stories of taking a rainforest tour, snorkeling in the warm water, spotting a sea turtle on the beach, or watching a troop of monkeys run across the road. The monkeys in particular have become part of the landscape and culture.
Although you’re not guaranteed to see a wild monkey if you visit St. Kitts or Nevis, it’s hard to miss the influence monkeys have had on the islands. On St. Kitts, you can hike up Monkey Hill or enjoy a rum punch at The Monkey Bar. One of the best dive sites on Nevis is called Monkey Shoals. Travel guides note which nature trails offer visitors a good chance to spot monkeys, and photographs of monkeys feature prominently on the websites of tour companies. Promotional materials published by an official tourism agency speak of “comical” monkeys and the sounds of monkeys "chattering in the trees.” You can find monkeys on postage stamps issued by the islands, and monkeys have even made their way into local proverbs.
Guidebooks will tell you the monkeys were brought to the islands from Africa by the French (or the British), and that they either escaped or were set free some time in the late 17th century, but what is left out is the sad fact that each year hundreds of wild monkeys are trapped, stuffed into wooden crates and flown off the islands. Their destination? Research and testing laboratories in the United States, Canada and Europe where pain and suffering are routine.
Help us stop this cruel trade.