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190 × 135 × 15 mm
208 pages
104 illustrations, 75 in colour
01 May 2013

Monkey Desmond Morris

The monkey has remarkable intelligence and adaptibility and has enjoyed a close relationship over millennia with human societies. Monkey deities feature prominently in the ancient religions of India, China, Egypt and Central America. Among peoples of tropical Africa, monkey masks and images are still in use in various ceremonies, dances and rituals. Monkeys are present in the human arts of carving, cartoons and painting, as Desmond Morris explores in this book. Yet numerous species continue to be exploited by humans in ways as various as labouring on coconut farms, performing in many parts of Asia for tourists and in the West in circuses, serving as substitute astronauts in space experiments and working as domestic companions for the disabled.

New monkey species are still being discovered, for example the blond capuchin (long thought extinct) in Brazil in 2006, and the Burmese snub-nosed monkey in 2010. But the future is not secure: some species are declining at a frightening rate, and logging and related agribusiness industries daily shrink further their natural habitats. And monkeys are bushmeat in some tropical countries. Morris’s Monkey is the up-to-date appraisal of the past, present and possible future of one of the most inquisitive and playful animals on our planet.

‘From his introductory anecdote, recalling the time when a monkey had bitten off my nipples (fortunately the sort that direct water onto a cars windscreen) to the final appendix listing some common uses of the word monkey in English slang, this is Morris at his most articulate and entertaining.’ — IVU Online News

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Desmond Morris is a world-renowned zoologist and television presenter, and the author of many best-selling books on human and animal behaviour, including Cats in Art (Reaktion, 2017). He has also written four books in Reaktion’s Animal series.


1. Sacred Monkeys
2. Tribal Monkeys: Myths and Superstitions
3. Monkeys Despised
4. Lustful Monkeys
5. Monkeys Enjoyed
6. Monkeys Exploited
7. Monkey Quotations
8. Monkeys and Artists
9. Monkeys as Animals
10. Unusual Monkeys
11. Rare Monkeys
12. Newly Discovered Monkeys
13. Intelligent Monkeys

Appendix 1: Classification
Appendix 2: Monkeys in the Language
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements