Humans and Animals

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Anthropology ・MLA ・3 Sources


The universe serves as an essential habitat for a large number of animals. Just as numerous species exist on earth, the types of habitats are equally countless broadly categorized as water, land, and air. Animals live in a place which best fits their need for shelter, survival, reproduction, and food. Human beings depend on animals for various reasons including food, transport, fun, and many others.

This paper explores primate relatives, behavioral and feeding habitats of monkeys revealing my real-live encounter. Monkeys are preferred for this study due to several reasons. First, they form an essential section of world’s biodiversity and are part of the natural heritage of many nations (Defler and Stevenson 5). Second, being primates, monkeys are most vulnerable to extinction in comparison to other mammals. Third, scientifically monkeys are related to humans in regards to classification, and therefore they deserve a lot of attention mainly concerning conservation. Lastly, monkeys play an important role in ecology more also in promoting the growth of trees and shrubs through seed dispersal.

Description of Monkeys

A monkey is a medium sized and long-tailed animal belonging to primate order (Kowalewski et al. 56). Their sizes vary significantly with Pygmy Marmoset being 5 to 6 inches tall and adult male Mandrill being 3 feet tall. Due to different habitats, they have the distinct adaptation for survival purposes. Currently, monkeys form two of the three classes of simian primates: New World monkeys and Old World monkeys. The main distinguishing feature between them is that the former has prehensile tail whereas the latter does not (Smuts 43). Also, there are substantial variations in regards to facial features of each of approximately 264 species of monkeys (Kowalewski et al. 79). Old World monkeys inhabit Asia and Africa; they include mangabeys, guenons, colobus, baboons, and macaques. New World monkeys live in South America, Central America, and Mexico; they include capuchin, squirrel, howler, wooly, and spider monkeys. In spite of the fact that all of them are capable of using their feet and hands for grasping on tree branches, arboreal monkeys use their tails (prehensile) too (Defler and Stevenson 15).

Primate Relatives

According to taxonomy, there are two unique lineages of primates, namely haplorhines and strepsirrhines (Defler and Stevenson 8). The origin of primates can be traced back in tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, America, and Africa. Other animals which belong to primate order include apes, gorillas, and humans. Except for human beings, primates are most threatened with extinction.


The environments in which monkeys dwell vary depending on modes of adaptations. Tropical rainforests of Africa, Asia, and South and Central America are ideal habitats for the majority of monkey species (Smuts 67). Golden and Geladas monkeys inhabit mountains whereas Japanese macaques live in snows. During winter macaques spend most of the time in the warm water. Open wooded areas, rocky hills, and savannas serve as homes for baboons. One adaptation that makes monkeys suited to their habitats is the flexible nature of their feet. The feet allow them to move through short branches high up in the canopy of a rain forest. While colonizing their habitats, monkeys help in dispersing seeds and pollinating flowers thus promoting environmental sustainability.

Feeding Habits

Fruits, nuts, leaves, flowers, birds, insects, small mammals, spiders, nuts, and eggs form the bulk of food for monkeys. Prehensile tail plays a vital role in holding during food gathering process. I liked the way the tail twists itself and holds the source of food (tree branches) as the hands collect the food. Old World monkeys have large cheek pouches which they fill up with insects, fruits, and leaves when foraging during the day. The stored food is chewed and swallowed when the monkeys discover a safe place to rest. Baboons predate on birds (guinea fowl), rabbits and young antelopes (Kowalewski et al. 80).

I was shocked by running speed of baboons as it chased young antelope for food. Langurs and colobus have chambered stomachs which harbor certain bacteria. The bacteria form symbiosis association in which it derives shelter from the monkey and in return it helps in digestion and fermentation of leaves. Geladas are mainly grazers and feed on grass. Tamed monkeys prefer leafy branches (willow, mulberry, ficus, hibiscus), special herbivore biscuits, and vegetables (Defler and Stevenson 12).

Behavioral Habits

Monkeys have stunning behaviors; some people term them as mysterious, mischievous and magnificent animals. Monkeys regroup themselves into smaller groups referred to as harems which consist of several females, young ones and an adult male (Smuts 43). In my personal view, these groups seem to be well organized, and they enhance family bonds.

In one group of monkeys, I could see specific monkeys carrying young ones on their backs. They looked both very attentive and aggressive. Monkey babies appeared very active, and in most scenarios, they used to play with one another. I could see them pulling and pushing one another, and at other times jumping up and down.

I was perplexed by the ability of monkeys to communicate to one another effectively. Some of the communication skills employed by monkeys include body language, facial expression, and vocalizations. Communication allows monkeys to cooperate as well as collaborate with their large groups. For instance, during threats monkeys yell at one another to prepare to flee or fight. In addition to yelling, they use grunts, screams, squeaks, moans, hoots, barks, and wails to pass a message (Smuts 54). When encountered by aggression or anger, monkeys pull their lips up to display the teeth. Head bobbing, jerking the shoulder and head forward, and yawning are other forms of expression to show anger. Although the ability of monkeys stole most of my attention, the most amazing and enjoyable behavior is the tree-swinging skill. To me, this swinging talent is far beyond human acrobatic performances.

Human-Monkey Relationship

A large number of monkeys has habitats in areas where human beings live. In perspective of farmers, they are pests that destroy farm crops, and they need to be eliminated (Kowalewski et al. 86). In fact, many monkeys have been killed by farmers because they are nuisance or destructive to crops.

Some monkey products such as meat and fur are considered beneficial to humankind. As a result, hunters from different parts of the world kill them to obtain the much-needed bushmeat as well as fur. The hunters use all kinds of crooked and sophisticated weapons to get rid of monkeys. In doing so, they violate the rights of monkeys an act which is deemed criminal and inhumane.

Some people keep monkeys as pets. Consequently, a large number of people has exploited this opportunity through trapping and selling monkey as pets (Kowalewski et al. 91). Once these animals are tamed as pets, the owners can subject them to untold suffering and torture.

The ever-increasing human population poses a significant threat to existence and survival of animals. Over the past large tracts of natural forest which harbor numerous animals have been destroyed and the trend seems to continue unless appropriate measures are taken. Destruction of natural habitats for purposes of farming and settlement leads to loss of biodiversity.

Due to destructive nature of human beings, the future of monkeys alongside other wild animals remains uncertain. Therefore, it is equally important for people to change their attitude towards monkeys. For instance, people should stop considering monkeys as pets. More so, they should recognize that monkeys are wild animals hence can be aggressive, messy as well as challenging to domesticate. Furthermore, people should understand that monkeys just like human beings have feelings and their rights to live need to be respected. Conservation measures should be established and implemented. For example, all monkeys which wander freely in public ecosystems should be carefully caught and taken to Zoos, game reserves or national parks. Additionally, movements that advocate for human rights should be formed and made operational. Criminal acts such as hunting and unauthorized collection of fauna and flora should be banned entirely.


Monkeys are essential creatures on Earth since they have unique characteristics such as communication and grasping skills. Their unusual talents and behaviors make monkeys outstanding among other animals (Smuts 43). Nonetheless, lousy human habits alongside other factors threaten their existence. Therefore, protection and conservation of monkeys should be considered a priority in modern world.


Works Cited

Smuts, Barbara B. Primate societies. University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Defler, Thomas R. and Pablo R. Stevenson. "Introduction: Studying Woolly Monkeys." The Woolly Monkey. Springer New York, 2014. 3-14

Kowalewski, Martín M., et al., eds. Howler monkeys: behavior, ecology, and conservation. Springer, 2014.

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