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It Begins: China’s Military Now Training Monkeys

They’re fierce. They’re furry. And they’re ready to protect the motherland.

The People’s Liberation Army revealed Monday that it has trained a small unit of macaque monkeys to protect a northern air force base from birds.

The monkeys’ handlers call their newest recruits the Chinese military’s “secret weapon,” and  state-run media highlighted the primates’ impressive skills in photos that were by turns cute, menacing and odd.

For years, migrating birds have wreaked havoc at the air base, threatening catastrophic failure in aircraft by getting sucked into their engines.

The military has tried scarecrows, bird netting, firecrackers and even live ammunition to decimate their nests… to no avail. Soldiers — showing valor in the face of such risks as slipping and falling — had climbed up trees in the past to destroy the nests, said a captain quoted on a news Web site run by China’s military, only to see those strategic spots retaken by birds the next day.

Enter the monkeys. 

The macaques are trained to respond to precise whistle commands from their handlers, according to the Chinese military, leaping into action, clambering up trees to destroy nests and scare away birds, according to an account on China’s Air Force News Web site on Sunday. The particular air force base employing the monkeys was left unidentified, described simply as being in the Beijing military zone. Base commanders in the account said the monkeys have destroyed more than 180 nests, at a pace of six to eight nests per monkey per day. . .

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