American Vice President Joe Biden meets monkey journalism.
MONKEYING WITH BIDEN’S SECURITY
by Biman Mukherji
Wall Street Journal / India Real Time
July 23, 2013
The security around Joe Biden’s visit to India may be among the tightest in the world, but it faced an unanticipated threat during the U.S. vice president’s first engagement — a pack of monkeys.
Mr. Biden started a four-day visit to India Monday with a trip to the Gandhi Smriti, a memorial to the leader of India’s freedom movement at the site where he was assassinated in New Delhi in 1948.
In what could be described as bad timing, about a dozen adult monkeys–some with babies in tow– took a fancy to thick clusters of raw mangoes hanging on a tree above a tall statue of Gandhi, just before the American dignitary was due to reach the spot on his carefully choreographed walkabout of the site.
But, oblivious to the high-profile visit going on beneath them, the creatures gamboled on the branches swinging from one to another, bombarding the area around Gandhi’s statue with unripe mangoes as they bit into the raw fruit and discarded the leftovers. Then three of the monkeys suddenly swept down from the branches on to a 10-foot high bamboo frame, covered with a white cloth, erected as a backdrop to the statue.
“What I don’t want is a mango to drop on the vice president when he comes here,” said an Indian security official as he warily eyed the furry creatures, who are regarded by many in the Indian capital as a menace.
Langurs, larger monkeys, and their owners were hired to keep smaller rhesus macaque monkeys away from government buildings in the city, where they have been known to break in cause havoc. But, according to reports, India’s wildlife and forest ministry has recently banned the use of Langurs in this way, causing the macaque problem to return.
As Mr. Biden and his wife walked towards the statue, and the monkey filled mango tree, Monday evening, photographers trained their cameras on the couple with a glint of anticipation. But no fruit fell from the tree as the U.S. vice president posed for a few seconds in front of the statue. Perhaps his security team had that covered too.