The scientists from Oxford Brookes University have discovered troops of chimpanzees who drink all day and who have developed tools to help them obtain it from trees. They found that the chimps of both sexes and all ages imbibe of the wine from palm trees. Some have been observed becoming quite drunk and they exhibit the same behavior we see in humans. They get agitated, get into fights and are sometimes seen stumbling about. They discovered that the chimps have developed a leaf sponge that makes it easier for them to collect the drink.
These chimps are the first known animals to get drunk on purpose besides humans. One troop of the chimps that is being observed seems to hold their liquor better and the just lie around after drinking.
A theory known as the “drunken monkey hypothesis” argues there is some survival benefit for primates to being attracted to ethanol.
It may be that it helps in finding partially fermented fruit or stimulates the appetite.
There seemed to be a strong attraction to alcohol in troop studied by Dr Hockings.
The closest biologists have come to recording such behaviour is on the island of St Kitts, where green monkeys have taken to targeting tourists’ cocktails in the morning.
It seems to me that if Nature really wanted to stimulate their appetite, it would have gotten them hooked on pot, although I imagine Nature didn’t want to take a chance on the chimps burning down the forest.
There have been several examples of boozy primates including Happy Jerry who learned bad habits on his trip over on a 19th-century slave ship.
The monkey gained notoriety as a hard-drinking, hard smoking staple of London society and was invited by King George IV to join him for venison, gin and a pipe.
Cheeta – Johnny Weissmuller’s chimpanzee co-star in Tarzan – was notably partial to a drink.
And, in Russia a chimpanzee croupier had to go into rehab when his casino keepers realised that he was an alcoholic.