Traumatized monkeys once the subjects of Soviet experiments are odd remnants of a more prosperous time in Abkhazia, an area of Georgia that calls itself independent, the Los Angeles Times reports. The area was crippled in its effort to break away from Georgia, but the 286 primates living in a research institute remain a point of pride for residents.
When the violence ended in a stalemate 15 years ago, other former Soviet states cut off ties with the renegade republic, and the institute sank into oblivion. It now struggles just to care for the animals. "People and scientists outside Abkhazia thought we didn't exist anymore,” the director says. “We only recently started being able to send e-mails to people saying that we exist."