Monkey Business: Ape Shuts Down Power To 45 Million Kenyans

Open Jaw

Who turned out the lights in Kenya? A monkey did it.

When a vervet monkey fell on a transformer at a Kenyan hydroelectric dam yesterday, the entire nation of 45 million people lost its electrical power.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company wrote on Facebook that the monkey scaled the roof of the company’s Gitaru Power Station in central Kenya. The 225 megawatt station is KenGen’s largest, generating about 10% of the country’s electricity thanks to the 100 ft. tall dam holding back the Tana River.

The monkey toppled off the roof of the plant, landing on a transformer. That created a domino effect: the 1st transformer shut off its electrical flow, causing others at the station to trip as well. KenGen said in its statement that “a loss of more than 180 megawatts” at the power station “triggered a national power blackout.”

The blackout lasted 4 hr. Business Daily Africa reported that businesses were hardest hit by the outage, with many shops relying on local — and expensive — electricity from backup generators.

The good news? The monkey survived.

“Monkey is alive,” according to KenGen, “and taken in by Kenya Wildlife Service.”

The monkey is not the 1st of its species to cause a load of trouble. The Washington Post reports that in 2007 women in the village of Nachu said they were being harassed by a 300 strong pack of vervet monkeys. The women tried to dress like men, as the Kenya Wildlife Service noted that monkeys seem less afraid of female humans.

“But the monkeys can tell the difference and they don’t run away from us and point at our breasts,” Nachu resident Lucy Njeri told the BBC back then. “They just ignore us and continue to steal the crops.”

The Kenyan power company described the blackout as an “isolated incident.” 

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