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A young monkey at an Israeli zoo became the first in recorded history to walk on its hind legs exclusively – mimicking humans – after a near death experience, the zoo’s veterinarian said yesterday.

Natasha, a 5-year-old black macaque at the Safari Park near Tel Aviv, began walking on her hind legs after a stomach ailment nearly killed her, zookeepers said.

Monkeys usually alternate between upright movement and walking on all fours. A picture in the Maariv daily, labeled “The Missing Link,” showed Natasha standing ramrod straight like a human.


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Natasha (Photo: Maavi)

Two weeks ago, Natasha and three other monkeys were diagnosed with severe stomach flu. Natasha briefly slipped into critical condition.

“I was sure that she was going to die,” said Natasha’s veterinarian, Igal Horowitz. “She could hardly breathe and her heart was not functioning properly.”

After intensive treatment, Natasha’s condition stabilized, and as soon as she was released from the clinic, Natasha began walking upright only.

“I’ve never seen or heard of this before,” said Horowitz. One possible explanation is brain damage from the illness, he said.

Other than the human-like walking, Horowitz said, Natasha’s behavior has returned to normal.

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