For The Joy of Animals: Are Humans Just Tools for a Monkey?

Are human’s just hand tools and free labor to animals?

Maybe you’ve seen the video that’s gone viral of an cute monkey using a human hand to crush leaves.  The Capuchin monkey, Chino, is impatient and a bit of a demanding task master of the slow learning human hand.   After numerous attempts, the hand completes the task of crushing the leaves to the Capuchin’s satisfaction and the monkey takes one of the leaf bits and chews on it.

(International Primate Rescue – Chino Crushing Leaves)

What I find intriguing is not just that Chino would teach a human to crush leaves.  Anyone with pets will tell you animals teach people all the time.  And they don’t always find us to be a quick study.

It’s the realization that Chino has a goal.  He wants crushed leaves.  He has a purpose.  So he can chew on the small bits.   And, while he is easily capable of crushing the leaves for himself, he recognizes another method of achieving his goal — employing something or someone else to do the task.  Chino uses humans and their hands as tools — even though he is more efficient at the task.

So why would Chino employ the inefficient human hands?

Is it entertainment for Chino?  Is it an exercise in communication?  Is he mimicking and applying learned behavior from his handlers?  Or has Chino done a cost-benefit analysis that says free trumps efficient?

Because if Chino knows he can teach a human hand to do manual labor for his benefit and not the benefit of the human, and the human hand will do it without receiving any compensation (not even peanuts) in exchange, then isn’t Chino creating a free labor force and using humans as a tools?

Either Chino is one smart monkey or we humans need to reassess our intellectual superiority in the animal kingdom …

What do you think?  Are we just free labor and hand tools for animals?




  1. Wow. I had not seen this video. You know my take, Linda: no DOUBT, humans need to reassess their intellectual superiority in the animal kingdom. Just because we communicate with words doesn’t mean that animals don’t have their own highly evolved, complex communication methods (look at ants, look at porpoises, look at hummingbirds)… I just wrote an article for a client recently who was explaining to me the way the horses at her ranch seem to “know” which cancer survivor is in the most need of emotional healing, and how the horses will gravitate toward them, and once the retreat is over, revert to their normal horse behavior. Now that’s superiority in the animal chain: unspoken empathy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s