Monkeys’ Thirst for Alcohol and the Experiments That Ensued
For those of you planning to party and/or get drunk this New Years Eve, you may be interested in knowing that you probably won’t be the only primate on the planet enjoying such activities.
In the Caribbean, there is the island of St. Kitts. This island has a cute and quite mischievous resident, known as the Vervet Monkey. These monkeys developed quite the taste for alcohol since their introduction to the island some 300 years ago. No, they didn’t stumble across the beach in a drunken stupor during the Golden Age of Piracy. The monkeys picked up the taste by eating fermented sugar cane left in the fields.
Over the centuries, their methods of satisfying their alcoholic cravings have changed. Today they simply sneak into local hotels or resorts and steal tourists’ drinks. As amusing as this may sound, it really isn’t so great for the monkeys. Yes, their drinking behaviors vary in ways similar to humans; some drink socially while others will go on a crazy binge. The downside is, more than 1000 of these monkeys have been trapped, caged and tested in experiments to find the nature of human drinking and whether or not alcoholism is hereditary.
If you would like to get a hands-on experience in working with these little guys, you can do so in their homeland of South Africa. The Vervet Monkey Sanctuary is always looking for volunteers to help with the care and protection of orphaned or injured monkeys. These monkeys have also been used in a number of other lab tests and experiments, mainly at UCLA. For information on the vervet monkey experiments, other primate experiments, and how you can help, check out the Primate Freedom Project and the Vervet Monkey Foundation.
By Heidi Marshall