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Repent, ye sinners: The monkeys are coming for us all

Screenshot: South China Morning Post (YouTube)

Monkeys should not be in zoos. Most animals, really, should not be in zoos—it’s 2019 and we have the entirety of Planet Earth and the whole of social media to look at if we want to see animals doing animal things. Keeping them in enclosures doesn’t seem fair or necessary. As a recent video shows, it also won’t contain the smartest among them for long.

Above, we see a Colombian white-faced capuchin monkey beating the hell out of a glass panel in its enclosure at China’s Zhengzhou Zoo. Cute little face looking intently at its work, the monkey repeatedly slams a rock against the surface until it shatters and, temporarily startled, it hauls ass away from a rain of broken glass.

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As Metro’s Jen Mills reports, a member of the zoo’s staff, Tian Shuliao, stated that “This monkey is unlike other monkeys.”

“This one knows how to use tools to break walnuts,” he explained. “When we feed walnuts to other monkeys, they only know to bite it.” Shuliao continued to detail how the genius capuchin returned to the scene of the crime, unable to resist admiring its work even after being initially scared by the shattered glass, and that the staff “picked up all the rocks and took away all its ‘weapons.’”

This is unlikely to stop the monkeys for long. A tourist who saw the whole thing play out mentioned seeing the monkey sharpening a stone, which, regardless of whether this is a case of a single, particularly smart capuchin or not, isn’t the sort of discovery that can be erased simply by taking away other rocks. Shuliao’s promise to “increasing patrols to ensure no animals attempt to escape” only seems like a stopgap measure.

Our own ancestors did not simply give up on breaking stuff and killing each other once we’d figured out how to use tools to do those things better. No, as shown in the famous documentary, 2001: A Space Odyssey, our species’ origins—and our long history of terrible violence—are tied up with the joy of smashing shit with tools. Taking these tools away has never stopped us for long. Why would it do anything to thwart the capuchins? It seems better to take this video as the warning it so clearly is, get right with god, and prepare for the coming monkeypocalypse.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.