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The wreck of what seems to be a space capsule is recuperated in the southern California waters. For the rescue operation military forces's greatest surprise, its inhabitants are not human but they are three apes that extract from it; Zira, Cornelius and the Dr. Milo.
Understanding that a temporal breach has made them realizing a jump into the past at a time when humans rule on the planet and when monkeys don't speak, they decide to protect themselves and remain mute. But enclosed in a cage of a Los Angeles zoo and processed as animals, Zira can no longer bear that; At the greatest stupefaction of Lewis Dixon and Stephanie Branton, two specialists in animal psychology, she speaks.
A commission inquiry is erected. The news rumbles all around the world. Following Milo's death, accidentally killed by one of the gorilla of the zoo, Zira and Cornelius explain that they are coming from the future of the humanity.
The two apes are transferred from the zoo to new innkeeper apartment much more luxurious where a hillock of flowers wait for them. But the presence of monkeys is not the taste of everybody.
Lewis Dixon and Stephanie Branton
Dr. Otto Hasslein, Scientific Counselor for the White House, esteems that the arrival of these monkeys having assisted to the destruction of the Earth is an error it is necessary to remedy. He equally estimates that the arrival of these speaking apes in our society could represent the premices to the monkeys reign on the Earth and by extension its future annihilation. Knowing Zira pregnent, he doubles strategy to make accept his theory to the President of the United States.
Zira and Cornelius are moved to a military camp so as to be questionned by Hasslein and the CIA. Submitted to a serum of truth, Zira confesses that she already practiced human dissection as humans do with animals. These informations are divulged to the commission that now subscribe to the scientific counselor's point of view, saying that descendants of these monkeys could, in an undeterminated future, represent a threat for the future of the human race. The risk being not to be ignored, the commission recommends by unanimity that the apes are to be sterilized and that the female is to be aborted.
Zira and Cornelius undergo a heavy questionning
When Zira and Cornelius escape the military center after having accidentally killed a guard, Hasslein, despite recommendations to get them back alive, is well decided to kill the two chimpanzees…
Spoiler ! the end of the story is revealed below…
Cornelius and Zira are helped in their escape by their friends, Dr. Lewis Dixon and Stephanie Branton. They hide them in the Armando's Circus where Zira gives birth to her baby. When order is given to find them back at any cost by rummaging all zoos and circuses of the region, Dixon sends the two escaped from the planet of the apes to hide in a harbor for a short time waiting to be moved to the south of Florida where they will be able to live in happyness.
But Hasslein finds their traces in the disused boat of the naval yard. Despite recommendations of the President, Hasslein kills Zira and her baby. Mad Cornelius kills the scientific counselor thanks to the gun provided by Dixon before to be shot his turn by the police. While all have the certainty to have annihilated the aps family, a chimpanzee baby in the Armando's Circus expresses its first words.