Although we often see monkeys eating bananas in TV cartoons and children's books, that's not really what monkeys do in the wild. Although wild monkeys are fruit eaters, their diets are also supplemented with nutrient-rich insects, roots, nuts, and leaves native to their habitats all around the world. And the bananas that monkeys might encounter in the wild are nothing like the cultivated bananas that humans eat. Domesticated bananas are actually considered to be unhealthy for monkeys, and some zoos have even stopped feeding them to their monkey populations. The high sugar content in cultivated bananas is bad for a monkey’s teeth and can lead to obesity and diabetes.
The appeal of the banana:
- In the 1950s, the Dwarf Cavendish and Grand Nain cultivars became the most popular bananas in grocery stores, replacing Gros Michel, a strain decimated by a fungus called Panama disease.
- Bananas are picked green and then ripened in special air-tight rooms filled with ethylene gas. The bright yellow color associated with supermarket bananas is caused by this artificial ripening process.
- Some websites claim that humans peel bananas incorrectly. Do it like monkeys do, they say: Flip the banana upside down, pinch the top until the peel splits, and then remove it.