The Zoning Board of Appeals today approved plans by Helping Hands to expand its facility on Cambridge Street in Allston to provide a place for service monkeys who have gotten too old to help clients enjoy their golden years in peace.
Helping Hands places specially trained capuchin monkeys with severely disabled clients to help them with daily tasks, from turning on lights to retrieving food from containers on shelves. The organization trains the monkeys for three to five years at its home at 541 Cambridge St.
Helping Hands used to place monkeys who've gotten too old to keep working with individuals willing to watch after them, but federal regulations no longer permit that, Helping Hands attorney Paul Rufo told the board at a hearing this morning.
The organization needed board approval for a roughly 528-square-foot addition, which Rufo said would let the group reorganize the existing interior space and create a second-floor home for senior monkeys to "enjoy the rest of their natural lives."
The mayor's office, city councilors Liz Breadon and Annissa Essaibi-George and the Allston Civic Association all supported the proposal. "Helping Hand is a fantastic organization," an aide to the mayor said.
The board approved the request for the requested variances unanimously.