Why You Never Smile at a Monkey

Costa Rica Capuchin Monkeys

Costa Rica Capuchin Monkeys

Monkeys.  What is more adorable than a little white-faced capuchin monkey?  I mean, really.  Resting on tree branches, soaking up the shade, lazily grooming his fellow equally-adorable friends and family. Capuchins radiate personality.  And they are so playfully sweet.  There is no way they could ever become aggressive or hostile.  No way at all…

Costa Rica Capuchin Monkeys

Watching them in the wild, like here in Costa Rica, makes you think.  What is it like to swing from branch to branch?  To be one with the forest?  At times they appear to exhibit human-like qualities and it is difficult not to anthropomorphize them and come to empathize with those projected thoughts. The guides call them “cappuchinos.”  Isn’t that fun?  Makes you want to smile at them, right?

Costa Rica Capuchin Monkeys

But what’s that you say?  You shouldn’t smile at a monkey?  Why in heavens not?

Costa Rica Capuchin Monkeys

Because then this will happen!

If you smile at a monkey and your teeth are on full display, get ready. These little guys see teeth as a show of aggression, a threat. Especially if there happen to be babies nearby, they could take your intentions the wrong way.  They can’t tell that you really want to just hug them, bring them home, and name them something adorable like Mr. Timbles.  Sorry to say, but Mr. Timbles will probably try to bite your face off.  And he may just throw a little something your way too.  Yes, that.

The next time you’re craning your neck with binoculars on to see some cute monkeys and you feel your mouth start to open, remember: never smile at a monkey.  If you are falling so madly in love that you absolutely can’t help it, keep those lips pursed. You and Mr. Timbles will be glad you did.  #nowyouknow

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