Five reasons monkeys are “evil”? A biologist’s perspective.

You know that scene in Jurassic Park 1? When the Velociraptors outsmart the game-warden, Muldoon, and he whispers “clever girl…” right before he is attacked? I feel like monkeys do that kind of thing all the time. They may not eat you, but they sure are clever little creatures.

evil monkey

Monkeys are evil. There I said it. Now let me explain why. I know most people think monkeys are sweet, cute, little playful things, and I agree. But monkeys are also “evil” little creatures. I try hard not to anthropomorphize animals and imbue them with human like qualities or emotions.  Animals are on their own unique evolutionary path, and should not be judged by our own value system (thus why I put “evil” in quotes, it is my own anthropocentric opinion). But…. monkeys are still pretty dang “evil”. While I do not study primates (the taxonomic group that contains us, apes, monkeys, and the prosimians), I have been fortunate enough to interact with a fair number of them, and not just the human kind.  My few experiences  have probably jaded me and my opinion towards monkeys, but I stand by it. I fully believe non-human primates are amazing animals, and they hold a special place in the ecology of the ecosystems they inhabit. I get really really excited when I see wild monkeys. If you can tell me heart warming stories of interactions with various primates, please share them. BUT, monkeys are still “evil” to me. For example, it is kinda “evil” to go out of your way to pee on a human infant (read below). The following are just 5 selected experiences, that have shaped my opinion that monkeys are evil.

1. Monkeys will beat you up and steal your stuff. Few animals are as fearless of humans as macaques. See the picture above with with scrappy looking male drinking the water bottle? I had just watched him launch onto a Japanese women who fell to her knees while this big male proceeded to pull her hair, tear at her backpack, and rip it open. He then calmly slipped the bottle out, while the poor women was screaming for help and in pain from her hair being yanked. He sauntered away, sat down, unscrewed the cap and went to town on that sweet, chilled water.

2. They use teamwork to screw you over. I have had a troop of long tailed macaques (Macaca fasciculariss)  work as a team in Borneo to lay “traps” in order to steal my food. For a whole week, everyday they would CONSTANTLY try to steal ANYTHING.  Macaques will steal something inedible and flaunt it, slowly moving away hoping you will follow, all while another “hidden monkey” moves in on the food. Macaques will also run around making noise and cause a commotion hoping humans will look in another direction and another will sneak up from behind. Is that teamwork though? Well after getting stolen food, I have seen them willingly share it with others doing the distracting. Cleaver girl.

3. Monkey punch. I have been full-on punched by a Siamang. Right in the mouth. Ya, Siamangs are technically not a monkey, but an ape. I still think it counts though. I was walking down a corridor at a zoo on the way to a snake enclosure, and I was chatting with one of my interns. I glanced into the cage to see one of the males up near the ceiling, sound asleep. Turned to say something to the intern, the intern made a small “epp” noise and quickly looked back at the enclosure to receive a knuckly punch right in the face. He had lunched from his perch he was “sleeping” on and reached through the bars with his freakishly long arms to show me some brand of ape justice. He then ran away all excited, “smiling” and chortling to himself. Evil.

4. Monkeys pee on babies. I once watched a squirrel monkey pee on a womens infant sitting in a stroller. Chance? Nope, she started trying to push it out of the way and the monkey hoped along the top of a retaining wall, all with excellent aim.

5. Monkeys throw poop. Is it a stereotype? No they really do. I have had monkeys throw branches, leaves, berries, and actual poo at me from trees. Two weeks ago in Indonesia I watched the person next to me get their head poo’ed on by  monkey. Not cool.

In conclusion, if monkeys are evil, than we should just give them even more space. They need lots of room to live their lives. Places without people. So stay away from monkeys. I try too. Don’t keep them as pets. Don’t support the “eco” tourist places that let the monkeys crawl all over tourists, or let you take photos for them. Go Google “zoonotic disease”. You should know that MANY types of primates can carry herpes that can be transmitted to people. AND you are just as likely to give some sort of disease to a primate. Potentially spreading your own germs into all the monkeys nearby, who may get sick and die. So enjoy non- human primates from a (very) far distance, or watch some Planet Earth special and consider yourself lucky you won’t get poop thrown at you.

monkey face

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