Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Meet the monkeys keeping Chinese troops safe

By Zoe Li, CNN
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1016 GMT (1816 HKT)
The People's Liberation Army Air Force has trained macaques to keep troops safe by discouraging birds from nesting near the air force base. The People's Liberation Army Air Force has trained macaques to keep troops safe by discouraging birds from nesting near the air force base.
HIDE CAPTION
Military monkeys keep air force safe
Military monkeys keep air force safe
Military monkeys keep air force safe
Military monkeys keep air force safe
Militarymonkeys keep air force safe
Military monkeys keep air force safe
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Birds pose a hazard to Chinese planes in the air
  • Monkeys are trained to remove bird's nests from tree tops
  • The monkeys leave a scent on tree branches, discouraging birds from returning

(CNN) -- The Chinese air force has a new secret weapon: monkeys.

The People's Liberation Army Air Force has trained macaques to keep its troops safe by discouraging birds from nesting near the air force base, the PLA's website reported earlier this week.

The monkeys are used in an unidentified air force base in northern China, which is situated right on a major migratory route for birds.

Inside Chinese military aviation museum
Global policy issues plague Obama's trip

When swarms of birds fly around the base, it poses a threat to military planes that are in mid-flight. The birds could potentially get sucked into plane engines, endangering the lives of both birds and pilots.

"Don't worry, we now have a secret weapon!" Su Chuang, a high-ranking officer, was quoted as saying on the PLA website. The officer was referring to the specially-trained monkeys that answer to the sound of a whistle.

When the nests of birds are discovered in tree tops, the monkey army is deployed to remove them.

The PLA have tried many different methods to remove the nests in the past, including opening fire on the nests, using long bamboo poles to topple them out of trees, and having soldiers climb the trees to pick them out.

None of these methods were very effective. Apart from being time-consuming and dangerous for the officers who had to climb the trees, the birds kept coming back.

However, when monkeys remove the nests, the birds do not return, as the macaques leave a scent on the branches that discourage the birds, according to the PLA's web posting.

"The monkeys are loyal bodyguards who defend the safety of our comrades," said the web report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0414 GMT (1214 HKT)
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 0437 GMT (1237 HKT)
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
June 19, 2014 -- Updated 0638 GMT (1438 HKT)
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 0812 GMT (1612 HKT)
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
June 16, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 0013 GMT (0813 HKT)
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0654 GMT (1454 HKT)
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT