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Ovation: Monkey See, Monkey Do Not Eat Those Bananas.

01/16/2014

SugarMonkeyI remember my grandmother using the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” all the time when I was a kid.  If I followed my grandfather around mimicking things he did around the house, the phrase seemed to fit.  He’d put his feet on the coffee table, I’d do the same.  He’d throw his jacket on the back of a chair I’d do the same.  When my younger brother or sister copied something that I did in an effort to be cool like me, she would say it.  I’d tell them to “shut up”, they’d tell me to “shut up”.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized she was trying to get the more mature “monkey” to stop doing something so the younger “monkey” wouldn’t develop the same bad habit.

She was very wise.

She also knew better to give us all sweets after dinner if there was any hope that we’d go to sleep at bedtime.

She was very wise.

Officials at Paignton Zoo in southwest England are also quite wise.  The monkeys at the British zoo have been banned from eating bananas because those grown for people are too sweet and sugary for them.

“Giving this fruit to animals is equivalent to giving them cake and chocolate.  People usually try to improve their diet by eating more fruit, but fruit cultivated for humans is much higher in sugar and much lower in protein and fiber than most wild fruit because we like our fruit to be so sweet and juicy.” – Dr. Amy Plowman, Head of Conservation and Advocacy, Paignton Zoo.

The high sugar content in bananas intended for people can lead to conditions like diabetes and stomach problems as the monkeys’ stomachs are mostly adapted to eating fibrous foods that are easy to digest.  It’s also quite bad for their teeth.

It’s been more than a year since the zoo began to gradually remove bananas from their monkeys’ diet so that they could grow accustomed to their new menu that features plenty of vegetables instead.  Changing the diet has apparently resulted in behavioral improvements in the high-energy smaller monkey breeds such as tamarins and marmosets which can be quite aggressive at times.  Reducing the amount of sugar in their diets by eliminating bananas has calmed them down and made their groups more settled and safe.

Apparently, the occasional banana is still offered at the zoo.  But only when a monkey is ill and a keeper needs to make sure they take medication.

I’m confident that my grandmother could get a monkey to take a pill.  She could do anything.

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3 Comments
  1. Oh, bananas! I was not aware of this and here I still thought of bananas as the perfect food.

    Like

  2. Bananas still have a lot of potassium & other good things in them!

    Like

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