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Biden narrowly escapes monkey threat in India

Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks at the closing of the National Conference on Mental Health, Monday, June 3, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington. The conference is part of the Obama Administration s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health. Credit: AP

During Joe Biden's diplomatic trip to India this week -- or, as Biden may understand it, the largest 7-11 he's ever visited -- security personnel surrounding the vice president worked extra hard to protect him from a unique threat: monkeys.

The Wall Street Journalreports:

In what could be described as bad timing, about a dozen adult monkeys–some with babies in tow– took a fancy to thick clusters of raw mangoes hanging on a tree above a tall statue of Gandhi, just before the American dignitary was due to reach the spot on his carefully choreographed walkabout of the site.

But, oblivious to the high-profile visit going on beneath them, the creatures gamboled on the branches swinging from one to another, bombarding the area around Gandhi’s statue with unripe mangoes as they bit into the raw fruit and discarded the leftovers. Then three of the monkeys suddenly swept down from the branches on to a 10-foot high bamboo frame, covered with a white cloth, erected as a backdrop to the statue.

“What I don’t want is a mango to drop on the vice president when he comes here,” said an Indian security official as he warily eyed the furry creatures, who are regarded by many in the Indian capital as a menace. [...]

As Mr. Biden and his wife walked towards the statue, and the monkey filled mango tree, Monday evening, photographers trained their cameras on the couple with a glint of anticipation. But no fruit fell from the tree as the U.S. vice president posed for a few seconds in front of the statue. Perhaps his security team had that covered too.

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