Do Monkeys Drink Alcohol? Monkeys on a beach in the Caribbean are notorious for stealing drinks from tourist and drinking themselves silly.
If you leave a room full of monkeys with a room full of typewriters, allowing them to hit the keys for an infinite amount of time, they're likely to come up with the complete works of William Shakespeare. So, goes the theorem. Well, it just so happens that if you leave a barrel of monkeys on a beach in the Caribbean while sun worshipers are sleeping off their day, many of them will get drunk, become merry and sneak off with any alcohol remnants they can find.
The History Of Monkeys That Drink
This was demonstrated 300 years ago when vervet monkeys were brought into the island of St. Kitts from West Africa as pets during the slave trade era. Several monkeys escaped, however, and were found to have gotten a taste for alcohol after finding and eating some fermented sugar cane that had been abandoned in the fields of the rum-producing island.
Today, monkeys don't need to work so hard to satisfy their cravings. The local bars on the rainforested tropical island allow them to wet their palate, as unfinished glasses sit ripe for the taking. Watch these monkeys for a while after they hide in the trees and wait in the background, before taking a swipe at an abandoned cocktail, and you'll notice the similarities between them and our behavior.
That's because monkeys' drinking habits are akin to the drinking customs of humans. In fact, for years, researchers have observed monkeys for more insight into people's drinking habits.
What Have Researches Learned About Alcohol and Monkeys?
Studies have already found that in the same way that the taste for alcohol in humans will differ, monkeys also have varying drinking habits.
Some will leap at the chance for a sweet-tasting and alcoholic cocktail. However, for some, just like humans, the allure of a soft drink is much more appealing and many are just fine being tea total.
Statistics show that the ratio between tea total monkeys and those that drink also mimics the proportion of drinkers to non-drinkers in the human population.
In line with human consumption, most monkeys do drink in moderation. These are social drinkers. Then there is the 12 percent that are steady drinkers while 5 percent of the primate population will drink an alcoholic beverage to its last drop. Some might call them binge drinkers.
Observers say that the similarity in drinking habits between humans and monkeys is indicative of the fact that alcoholic preferences are determined by genetic makeup.
The Similarities Do Not End With Drinking Choices
After watching a group of monkeys make their daily raid amid a booze strewn beach, onlookers will start to notice how other human traits start to emerge.
Erratic or aggressive behavior, desperation, competitiveness, swayed movements and eventual lethargy. And some may even be tempted to take a post-binge nap.
There are ways in which humans and monkeys differ with their relationship to drinking culture as well.
Homo sapiens who have consumed too much alcohol are rarely taken seriously in positions of authority, at least while drunk, which makes us more aware of our behavior.
Such behavior in intoxicated monkeys sets a different stage, however. Monkeying around does not invoke the same embarrassment or lack of credibility when it comes to leadership. Research suggests that monkeys that drink make better leaders and are in turn respected by other leaders in the monkey world. Nice work if you can get it.
Alcohol Dependence In Monkeys
The origination of alcohol dependence in monkeys and humans has been hypothesized as being more or less the same, harking back to the days where less developed communities and primate ancestors would forage for ripe fermenting fruit, much like those vervet monkeys on St. Kitts island in the 17th century.
Known as the "drunken monkey hypothesis," after primates today have been observed seeking out fermented plants in the jungle, the intoxicating effect of food and alcohol dependency is linked to inhabitants of the earth as far back as 18 million years ago.
It shouldn't, therefore, surprise us that today there is an island of drunk monkeys in the West Indies, it's simply evolution.