THEY endeared themselves to tourists with their forthright dexterity to the extent they became an attraction on the Mediterranean peninsula of Gibraltar.

But many of the Barbary macaques who famously inhabit Gibraltar are being deported after their over-familiarity became downright cheek that ended with them stealing food, attacking tourists and residents and even laying siege to a convent school.

Loading article content

Around 30 of the delinquent monkeys are understood to be heading to a wildlife park in Scotland to be cared for by primate rescue experts as part of the Gibraltar administration's relocation programme.

Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park near Stirling is expected to be named as the new home for the troop, believed to be a family group, later this week.

The facility already has a primates enclosure and is one of only a few such parks that could cope with the rescue.

The macaques have been tattooed and microchipped and their behaviour monitored so repeat offenders can be removed from the Rock.

They were being kept in an enclosure on Gibraltar before deportation.

Around 90 more macaques are expected to be rehomed in Africa, almost halving the colony, but preventing a cull.

Some monkeys remaining are also reported to be part of a neutering programme.

A spokesman for the Gibraltar administration said yesterday it would unveil the export of about 30 Barbary macaques on Friday.

He said: "Gibraltar is home to the only wild ape population on the European continent and, whilst the apes are a huge attraction for the Rock's tourists, the ever-increasing number of apes has become a problem for local residents and, hence, there is a need to export some of these animals."

It has been reported that in one year alone there were 104 macaque attacks and in 2012 a grandmother needed hospital treatment after being bitten while pushing a pram.

Convent schoolchildren were no longer allowed to eat food in their playground because of the "regular presence of monkeys loitering around the area".

Tourists flock to see the apes to witness their amusing antics but their tame nature has been to blame for reports of the damaged property, stolen bags and attacks on residents and visitors.

Gibraltar is home to the only wild ape population on the European continent and it is said that should they desert the Rock then Britain's rule will end.

Winston Churchill took it so seriously that he ordered more of them to be imported during the Second World War as their numbers declined, giving strict orders that a minimum of 24 should be maintained.

The earliest written record of Gibraltar's apes, whose natural habitat is the mountains of Morocco and Algeria, dates back to 1740.

They feed on wild roots, berries, fruit and vegetables, are divided into packs.

Blair Drummond Safari Park did not respond to requests for comment.