Archive for October, 2012

“Chimps of Stature”

October 29, 2012

Last December, one of the chimpanzees who played Tarzan’s sidekick Cheeta passed away. One of my co-workers was clearly devastated, and I was commissioned to write a report on ‘Chimps of Stature’ to honor Cheeta. I don’t know much about famous Chimpanzees, but I do know plenty about certain other notable primates. Here’s the report I wrote (on my break, mind you; taxpayers needn’t worry).

‘Chimps of Stature’
By Ryan Kerch
Staff Writer

Since the dawn of time, chimpanzees have inspired the imagination of man. However, the great statesman and kite-enthusiast Benjamin Franklin once said, “Chimpanzees are cool, but you know what’s really cool? Rhesus monkeys that fly rockets to space.”

The first monkey astronaut was Albert, who on June 11, 1948 flew 39 miles into the sky on a V2 rocket. Albert did not survive his adventure, as he suffocated during the flight.

The second monkey in space was Albert II, who flew 83 miles upward and officially became the first monkey in space. While Albert II did survive the space travel, he was killed on impact when the parachute failed to open on his return.

The third monkey blasted off in a V2 rocket was Albert III, whose craft exploded 35,000 feet above the ground. Albert III did not survive.

Albert IV, the fourth monkey astronaut—like Albert II before him—died on December 8, 1949 following another parachute failure.

After an 0-and-4 record, the monkey space program took a much needed hiatus as technicians worked on perfecting their parachutes. Albert V was sent into space with much fanfare on April 18, 1951, only to come to an untimely demise when his parachute failed to open as well.

Then on September 20, 1951, Albert VI, the sixth monkey astronaut, became the first monkey to survive space travel. Albert IV’s celebration time was short-lived, as he died two hours after landing due to overheating in his spacecraft.

Finally, someone realized that monkeys named Albert were clearly inept at space travel. Patricia and Mike, two cynomolgus monkeys became the first monkeys to survive rocket travel, on May 21, 1952. Unfortunately, their flight did not cross the boundary into outer space. It is rumored that Mike and Patricia got lost, and refusing to ask for directions, Mike simply turned the rocket around.

In 1958, Gordo the squirrel monkey died in a rocket crash after another failed parachute deployment.

Then history was made on May 28, 1959 when Able and Miss Baker became the first monkeys to survive space travel. Able died while undergoing surgery to remove a medical electrode, but Miss Baker survived and had a surprisingly successful career in her post-astronaut life as a guest host on Jack Paar’s era of ‘The Tonight Show.’ Miss Baker was widely considered to be the favorite to replace Paar, but due to her inability to speak, the job was given to Johnny Carson.


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