WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush told Detroit's auto industry leaders on Tuesday that he will import "as many monkeys as it takes" from Thailand to work on vehicle assembly lines for Detroit's Big Three automakers.
Bush said, "We face tough choices due to foreign competition but those monkeys that can pick coconuts from trees can certainly help improve productivity on the American assembly lines. They are obviously the way to go."
Monkeys have long been used at Thai coconut plantations. Pig-tailed macaques are indispensable for picking coconuts from trees.
They can quickly scramble up coconut palms, pluck the ripe coconuts and drop the fruit to the ground. One monkey can pick about 300 coconuts a day and can also work 10 times faster than a man.
Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney met in the Oval Office with top executives of Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler AG. Several pig-tailed macaques were also in attendance at the meeting.
The auto executives said they talked to Bush about their worries about health care, energy and trade issues, as they sought a federal bailout. Yet Bush's only response was to offer monkeys to the troubled industry, rather than mandating higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards which is the real cause of their woes.
Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp. is enjoying soaring profits and increasing imports into the American auto market with their highly efficient vehicles, as it prepares to unseat GM as the world's largest automaker.
The auto executives finally agreed to accept the monkeys and led them away on leashes. They realized that they could save a considerable amount of money on health and pensions costs by employing them.
Several monkey training schools already exist in Thailand, which teach the clever creatures to pick coconuts and to act in local movies.
With White House assistance, the automakers will visit Thailand next month and start hiring autoworkers from the 1,200 trained monkey currently working in the Thai provinces of Prachuab Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Ranong and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Thai monkey schools will also be raided.