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January 29, 1988 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-29

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In the Israeli capucine monkey project, war hero Sorin Herscu is aided by a specially trained simian.


Jewish News Israel Correspondent




hree years ago, Carmella Burke
decided that seven children were not
enough. So the Australian-trained
psychologist and her physician husband
adopted an eighth.
Before long, Iza was just another
member of the family; a noisy, active, new
addition who got into mischief, loved play-
ing with toys, was transfixed by television
and competed with the Burkes' four-year-
old daughter for attention and affection.
"She was adorable, delicious," says
Carmella Burke, 45, who immigrated to
Israel with her husband, Michael, in 1966
and now lives in IN Aviv. "We very quick-
ly formed a warm, loving attachment."
But Iza was quite unlike any of the
Burkes' natural children; in fact, she was
not a child at all. The newest addition to
the Burke household was a capucine
monkey, born in Argentina and adopted by
the Burkes at the age of three months.
"Iza took on the role of the baby, and in
many ways she was treated like one of the
kids," says Carmella Burke. "She got
shouted at and, occasionally, she got a

Phc4o By Hanoch Guthmann.

In her role as "mother," Carmella Burke
drew the line at certain forms of behavior.
"Biting," she says firmly, "was totally
unacceptable. We quickly got rid of that.
She certainly got a slap if she bit one of
the children while they were having a scrap
over a toy.
"But the relationship she formed with us
was unbelievable. What was overwhelming
— quite amazing, really — was how in-
credibly similar she was to the kids in
terms of her emotional needs, her
possessiveness, her feelings. She was easi-
ly insulted."
Both Carmella and Michael Burke are
animal lovers, but they were not merely in-
dulging this affection when they added Iza
to their large and busy household.
The Burkes were, in fact, performing a
critical function in a radical new approach
to helping the disabled — using
domesticated, trained capucine monkeys to
perform a wide range of specific domestic
Carmella Burke is herself the initiator
and director of the project, which is being
funded by the Israel Defense Ministry and
which aims to produce companions and
helpmates for severely wounded, house-
bound Israeli soldiers.

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