People who work in tropical tourist spots will tell you that monkeys love to finish off anyone’s drink if they step away from from it for even a minute. The idea that monkeys seek out fermented fruit for its alcohol content in the wild has been around for quite some time, and now researchers are documenting it.
Christina Campbell and Victoria Weaver’s research on monkeys and their alcohol intake illustrates the difficulty of studying primates in the wild. Campbell, Weaver, and her team followed a troop of monkeys all day long, with the monkeys swing through the treetops eating fruit, and the humans trudging up and down hills and retrieving the discarded fruit after the monkeys took a bite or two. And then they got urine samples from the monkeys, which shows a real dedication to science.
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What they found is that monkeys do prefer fruit that is fermented, and that they indeed metabolize the alcohol these fruits contain. They are deliberately seeking out alcohol in the foods they select. But while this shows alcohol-seeking behavior is natural and not limited to humans, the monkeys rarely get drunk. Analysis of their diet and their urine shows that over the course of a day, they may consume as much alcohol as one glass of wine. Read about the study and what it implies at Atlas Obscura.