I don’t really think it’s much of a spoiler that the apes in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” get loose and cause a riot on the Golden Gate Bridge. Even if this climax hadn’t been shown in the trailers, it is called “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Also, we’re way beyond spoiling the ending of a plot point that originally occurred back in 1968, right? Anyway, there is a point in the film when evolved chimpanzee Caesar gives all his fellow imprisoned simians a cookie (yeah, even Rocket) and leads them to freedom by making a trail of Chips Ahoys for them to follow. Okay, the cookie trail doesn’t happen, but he does lead what ends up looking like the quickly multiplying Gremlins pouring out of a burning movie theater. Why would there be so may apes incarcerated in an abusive San Bruno shelter?
According to some curious research by Slate, it turns out there wouldn’t be. The Bay area has no sanctuaries of any kind, let alone those who’d hire nasty Draco Malfoy types. As for research labs, from which Caesar rescues more recruits in the film, reportedly there are more than 100 non-human primates being tested on in the region, but it’s unlikely that any are apes, just monkeys. By Slate’s count, there are only 25 actual apes in the area, mostly in zoos in San Francisco and Oakland — plus Koko, the famous signing gorilla, who lives way out in Woodside with her partner. Another issue: apes are illegal in private residences, so unless there are a number of James Franco types with undocumented contraband chimps in their attics, the numbers just aren’t there.
But today I was reminded of a reason the apes won’t need to wage war against riot cops in order to start their takeover of the earth.
Actually, the way “ROTPOTA” ends, this is already clear. I won’t spoil that turn of events. But I will say it’s not a massive earthquake, which would be fitting for the setting and also perhaps reasonable for the apes’ ability to survive. As minor as it was, yesterday’s quake that struck near Washington, D.C., and was felt up here in NYC, was apparently anticipated by at least a few seconds by the great apes at the National Zoo. Here is what an official press release described as their behavior just prior to the rumbling we humans could feel:
* The earthquake hit the Great Ape House and Think Tank Exhibit during afternoon feeding time.
* About five to ten seconds before the quake, many of the apes, including Kyle (an orangutan) and Kojo (a Western lowland gorilla), abandoned their food and climbed to the top of the tree-like structure in the exhibit.
* About three seconds before the quake, Mandara (a gorilla) let out a shriek and collected her baby, Kibibi, and moved to the top of the tree structure as well.
* Iris (an orangutan) began “belch vocalizing”—an unhappy/upset noise normally reserved for extreme irritation—before the quake and continued this vocalization following the quake.
Now I kind of wish “ROTPOTA” had ended with “the Big One” and all the apes were just trying to escape the city before it hit, so that they’d survive. Of course, it’d be an exaggeration of how long a warning they really get. Still, don’t be surprised if this does end up the fate of San Franciscans and their apes, whether they’re in the hundreds or only 25. Can Roland Emmerich please direct “ROTPOTA2”?