Wild Animals/Primates

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Question
I was thinking about writing a fanfic about the 2011 movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and figured some research into non-human primate diets was needed for authenticity. I'm specifically wondering if monkeys, gorillas, apes, etc. enjoyed to eat bread, cheese, pasta, pickles, pizza, tacos, sushi, ice cream, chocolate, candy, or any other foods created/consumed by humans? Or do they just eat plain fruits, veggies, and insects? Could they even digest it, or would it make them sick?

I ask because I figured that Caesar and his comrades would be living off of both indigenous San Francisco plants and wildlife combined with whatever they could scavenge from trash cans and whatnot. I also thought a scene in which the apes were drinking coffee or tea while reading the local newspaper would be interesting to incorporate but am unsure if they could tolerate let alone enjoy such drinks.

Answer
Hello Mila

Thank you for your question.I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

Basically, the digestive systems of apes and many monkeys are similar to those of humans, so monkeys and apes can eat the same kinds of food as we do (see http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100826054716AAUOYz0). Please note that individual tastes may vary and one member of a species may enjoy a food item, while another does not. Similarly, apes and monkeys can become ill from eating various food items, even if they seem to enjoy them. Various apes have been trained to sit at tables and eat using cutlery.

Some leaf-eating monkeys have complicated digestive systems to help them digest fibrous leaves.  http://howlermonkeyhome.blogspot.co.uk/2007/05/howlers-monkeys-digestive-needs.h has details for the howler monkeys, while http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/animals/primates/grizzled-leaf-monkey mentions the grizzled leaf monkey.

Caesar and his comrades would probably adapt to whatever food was available. Please note that humans can be very versatile. For example, there was a recent case of a castaway claiming to survive on turtle blood (http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&v), while some people eat grass in Syria (http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/11/syrians-forced-to-eat-grass-aid-worker-). As the digestive systems of non-human apes are similar to those of humans, I can see no reason why caesar and his comrades couldn't be just as adaptable.

All the best

Jonathan  

Wild Animals

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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