Anissa Sandra S. Villaverde
On the Monkey Documentaries
Last week, our class was made to watch two episodes from a series of documentaries entitled “The Life of Mammals.” In these two films, Social Climbers and Food for Thought, we were given a glimpse into the lives of our relatives in the animal kingdom.
It was astounding to see how much these monkeys had in common with humans. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Capuchins. They are my favourite among the group of social climbers. What I found most interesting about them, aside from the fact that they are incredibly adorable, is how intelligent they are; they are observant, inquisitive of their environment, are very social creatures. These characteristics were demonstrated in the scenes where they try to crack open the clams by imitating what others were doing and the one where they have some sort of a pipa leaf-rubbing orgy to repel insects. Some monkeys are also known to have the capacity to do human activities such as the Orang-utans. They have big brains, they can be left or right handed, they use tools, learn from imitation, and they even have a mental calendar which tells them when fruits are ready for picking.
Another thing I found interesting was the social structure of these monkey groups and how much they value relationships and social order. A lot of them form alliances, either inside or outside the group, and come up with strategies for survival. However, what I found to be alarming was the bullying culture of the chimpanzees. Similar to what happens in our society today, the males, especially the young ones, are pressured to assert their dominance in the community, or else they get beaten up. Prior to watching the documentary, I was not aware that even monkeys experienced bullying in their society. I think that this is one of the factors that makes their community highly human-like.
After watching the films, I realized that most people have underestimated the intelligence and the capabilities of monkeys. They can think and behave similar to how we do. They value social interaction just as much as we do. The think that there are animals that may be as intelligent as humans is both fascinating and alarming at the same time.