One step up the ladder

Police tactical units usually don’t engage in a lot of monkey business, but one Mesa, Ariz., SWAT team wants to add a capuchin monkey to its staff.

“Everybody laughs about it until they really start thinking about it,” said Sean Truelove, an officer with the Mesa Police Department who builds and operates tactical robots for the unit in suburban Phoenix.

Truelove said the department is trying to obtain a capuchin, considered the second smartest primate behind the chimpanzee, with about $100,000 in grant money.

Truelove says the monkey, which alone would cost $15,000, could become the ultimate SWAT reconnaissance tool. Capuchins are small, weighing between 3 and 8 pounds, have tiny humanlike hands and puzzle-solving skills. He said the monkey could be trained to unlock doors and search buildings.

Since 1979, capuchin monkeys have been trained as companions for quadriplegics, performing daily tasks such as serving food, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, and retrieving objects and brushing hair.

A South African zoo wants a chimpanzee to quit smoking cold turkey.

Keepers in Bloemfontein say Charlie the chimpanzee picked up the habit from visitors at the Bloemfontein Zoo who sometimes toss him lit cigarettes.

“It looks funny to see a chimp smoking,” a zoo spokesman said, but Charlie’s trick could cost him his health.

The zoo is asking people to stop tossing cigarettes and contributing to the chimp’s habit.

A zoo official says Charlie “acts like a naughty schoolboy” and hides his cigarettes when workers are around.