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Study shows how disabled monkeys survive by compensating for their physical limitations

a monkey

No one is certain as to why Nina was born without hands, there were no doctors present at birth, nor specialists or even a midwife.

The reason for no medical professional present when the baby came into the world is explanatory, Nina is a Japanese macaque, a red-faced monkey from Japan.

If theory is to be believed and us humans evolved from the monkey kingdom Nina’s story draws similarities on how a disabled child progresses through early childhood.

During the first stages of her life Nina adapted to being disabled supported by the added love and care from their mother living in a group of monkeys where she does not experience any prejudice. 

Nina has been observed by a small team of experts from Awajishima Monkey Center who have studied other disabled and non-disabled monkeys to dispel the myth that disabled animals are unable to survive in their natural habitat.

Research compiled from 70 different study sites shows there are more disabled animals than originally expected, 37 species of non-human primates such as monkeys, apes and lemurs were found to be living with some form of disability.

Around 45 percent of the disabilities can be traced back to birth, like Nina’s, where around 24 percent were formed by injury and a similar number caused by illness.

The study found primates compensate for their disabilities by using behaviour flexibility and innovations, those who were unable to do so were cared for by their mothers or, in some cases, relatives and group members.

Disabled primates are rarely unaccepted by their social network, there is little sign of isolation or inequality.

Nina may have been disabled from birth, but many primates form long-term disabilities because of humans, causes include hunting snares, injuries sustained from electrical wires and diseases passed on between human and non-human primates…

Which is where, sadly, the similarities between humans and primates ends.

[ A howler monkey can be heard up to three miles away. ]

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