Monkey lip-smack ethology

When I was a young kid, maybe 9 years old, I read a book on primates that explained some monkey signals. When a monkey is frightened or hostile it bares its teeth and bristles its hair. When a monkey wants to make friends, it smacks its lips repeatedly.

The book suggested to its juvenile readers that the next time they visited the monkeys at the zoo, they try this signal. If at first the monkey doesn’t respond, it advised, just keep on lip smacking, and you will make friends. :slight_smile:

Shortly afterward, my family went to Jungle Larry’s Safari. I went up to a big cage full of monkeys, faced the nearest one, and commenced lip smacking.

The monkey FREAKED!!!:eek: He bared his teeth, bristled his hair, screamed, and leapt frantically all around the cage. I kept on lip smacking, and the more I did it the more the monkey went, pardon the expression, apeshit. In between screams, he paused and smacked his lips, then went back to leaping and screaming. It got to where he was freaking, screaming, and lip smacking all at once. I gave up, :frowning: resolving to take such advice from books with a grain of salt in the future.

So my question is, where did I go wrong? :confused: How did my supposedly friendly signal freak out the monkey? Is there a better way to signal friendship (apart from feeding them bananas)?

Who knows, man? It’s entirely possible that you lip smacked something inappropriate. For instance, it’s perfectly acceptable to say to you’re wife or girlfriend, “Hey baby, you’re a hottie and I’m gonna work you like a pack mule.” or something similarly romantic. It’s altogether different to say that to, for example, the cop who just stopped you for speeding.

You might have done the primate lip smack equivalent of “Bend over and get ready to squeal, beeatch!”