Thursday, July 25, 2002

I happened to see a story on Hellion the Monkey on 60 Minutes last night. In the 1970s she was trained to be a helper for a disabled man named Robert. Now there is a large organization called Helping Hands Monkeys, which trains monkeys to be caretakers for the disabled.

It was truly remarkable the tasks Hellion was performing for Robert, from brushing his hair to getting him a beverage from the fridge. More than a little moving, too, as it juxtaposed their modern day lifestyle with that from the original story in the 70s. Now old and a little grumpy, Hellion still went about her Helping role with what almost seemed like pathos. The two had grown into symbiosis.

It's important to note, also, that when Hellion was trained in the 70s, they used reward and punishment techniques, including small shocks. That technique is no longer used, and they are trained entirely by positive reinforcement.

Anyway, this is a great cause, and no longer receives government funding, so why not give a monkey some chow?


Blog Archive