On the Caribbean island of St. Kitt’s, alcoholic monkeys roam the beaches waiting for vacationers to leave their drinks. Yes, you read that right, there is an entire island of drunk monkeys:
The green vervets were introduced to the island as pets in the 17th century when they were brought over with slaves from Africa. The wild vervets had developed a liking for alcohol in the form of fermenting sugar cane in the fields of the rum-producing island.
When they spotted a drink that had been left unguarded or unfinished, the monkeys would sneak down from the trees, jump on the tables and start drinking. They were tasting the drinks to see which ones they liked.
The drunk monkeys phenomenon has become so common place that there is now research being done on the monkeys to test the effects of alcohol on primates with interesting findings related to human alcoholism:
A controversial research project that involves giving alcohol to 1,000 green vervet monkeys has found that the animals divide into four main categories: binge drinker, steady drinker, social drinker and teetotaller.
The vast majority are social drinkers who indulge in moderation and only when they are with other monkeys – but never before lunch – and prefer their alcohol to be diluted with fruit juice.
Fifteen per cent drink regularly and heavily and prefer their alcohol neat or diluted with water. The same proportion drink little or no alcohol.
Five per cent are classed as “seriously abusive binge drinkers”. They get drunk, start fights and consume as much as they can until passing out. As with humans, most heavy drinkers are young males, but monkeys of both sexes and all ages like a drink.