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Marvin Gaye's 1973 hit single helps monkey get it on

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Europe, there are only two species of wild primates. The first is humans. And the second is the Barbary macaque. It's an endangered population. An estimated eight to 10,000 remain in the wild.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

More than 100 live at the Trentham Monkey Forest in England. Curators at the park have been trying to get them to, well, multiply. And to encourage them, they've turned to something that's worked for generations of humans...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S GET IT ON")

MARVIN GAYE: (Singing) I've been really trying, baby.

FADEL: ...The baby-making music of Marvin Gaye.

MARTIN: And they didn't just play recordings. They hired an impersonator to perform live.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET'S GET IT ON")

DAVE LARGIE: (Singing) Don't you know how sweet and wonderful life can be?

MATT LOVATT: While he was performing, we did notice a lot more grooming amongst some of the monkeys, and certainly a male and a female. At one point, I did think we were going to get some live action mating.

MARTIN: That's Matt Lovatt, the park's director. He hopes the publicity from the stunt is going to help the park highlight the struggles of the macaque.

LOVATT: Unfortunately, in the wild, lots of the reason that they are in such a difficult position is through human activity. It's through deforestation, illegal logging, but also babies being taken, used in the pet trade.

FADEL: As for whether it will bring about more babies, it's too early to say. Birthing season for Barbary macaques is in the summer. But hopefully, Marvin will work his magic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SEXUAL HEALING")

GAYE: (Singing) Hot, just like an oven. I need some loving. And, baby, I can't... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.