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What will the Russia-Georgia conflict mean for primates, human and non-human?

As the world turns its attention to the spreading fight between  Russia and the Republic of Georgia, it’s worth a reminder that war can have lasting effects on the soldiers who fight it and the citizens who get caught in it. The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder are well-known, and some populations are affected more than others. (Meanwhile, some armed forces are experimenting with ways to “juice” the brains of their soldiers, and Georgia is accusing Russia of a coordinated cyberattack on Georgian Web sites, according to ZDNet.)

Non-human primates probably won’t fare very well either. According to Reuters, Sukhumi, Georgia's Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy “is now a shadow of the pioneering centre that helped defeat polio and saved countless thousands of lives in World War Two with penicillin treatments.” The center, in the middle of the pro-Russia separatist enclave of Abkhazia, was at one time home to 2,500 monkeys. Today only 303 live there. “Staff still recall the dark days of the early 1990s when Georgian troops waging war with separatist and Georgian forces clashed in and around Sukhumi,” Reuters notes. “Both sides engaged in looting, taking away monkeys.”

photo: iStockphoto.com

 

 

 

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