In October 2016, Great Big Story visited with Helping Hands, an organization in Boston, Massachusetts that trains tiny capuchin monkeys to act as helpful service animals to disabled persons who have lost the ability to use their hands due to spinal cord or brain injury. The animals are perfectly suited for the job due to their intelligence, agility, natural hierarchy sweet nature and excellent dexterity. Additionally, the adorably-named “Monkey College” offers the capuchin students the skills they need to succeed with their humans over the course of a few years.
After a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, the simplest tasks can become daunting. At Helping Hands, capuchin monkeys are trained to help people with disabilities regain their independence and confidence. The capuchins spend between three to five years at “monkey college” where they learn simple tasks before joining up with people. This is no urban legend; these primates are making a real difference.