The Barbary Ape, in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, Gibraltar. Source: A plate from Frederic Cuvier, in Jardine, following p.190. Right: One of the apes can be spotted on a ledge half-way up the extreme right of the engraving from W. H. Bartlett's drawing, Europa Point and Ceuta. Source: Bartlett, facing p. 187.

This mammal has always been a source of wonder for tourists in Gibraltar, "both on account of its peculiar form, and as being the only quadrumanous animal found on the European continent" (Jardine 191). Besides, as William Jardine continues, there is the fact that this species lives on "the precipitous sides of the rock of Gibraltar, which is said by a historian of its celebrated siege to be remarkable for the number of apes about its summit, breeding in inaccessible places, and appearing in large droves with their young on their backs, on the western face of the hill" (191).

Churchill's declaration in World War II that Gibraltar would continue to be British as long as there were apes on the Rock (see Rushton 18) has made the Barbary Apes seem more special than ever, and their well-being is carefully monitored by Gibraltar's Ornithology and Natural History Society. No account of this unique Overseas Territory would seem complete without some mention of them.

Text and image acquisition by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the source and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.


Bartlett, William Henry. Gleanings, Pictorial and Antiquarian, On the Overland Route. 2nd ed. London: Hall, Virtue, 1851. Google Books. Free ebook. Web. 28 January 2019.

Jardine, William. The Naturalist's Library: Mamalia. London: Chatto & Windus, 1840. Internet Archive. Contributed by Fisher Librarym University of Toronto. Web. 28 January 2019.

Rushton, Katherine. Gibraltar. 2nd ed. Peterborough: Thomas Cook, 2011.

Last modified 5 February 2019