This is the sleepy island of Saint Kitts in the Caribbean. Three hundred years
ago, vervet monkeys were brought here from West Africa along with slaves serving
the rum industry. Escaped monkeys acquired a taste for alcohol by eating
fermented sugar cane left in the fields. Today they satisfy their thirst by
raiding local bars. They have learned to be sneaky. Picking the right moment is
everything. For years the monkeys have been studied for insight into our own
drinking habits. Just as we vary in our taste for alcohol, so do the monkeys.
Some do anything for an alcoholic cocktail. But just how some people at
teetotal, so are some monkeys. These reject alcohol in favor of soft drink.
Significantly the percentage of teetotal monkeys matches the non-drinkers in the
human population. In line with human habits most drink in moderation. 12% are
steady drinkers and 5% drink to the last drop. This similarity between us shows
that a liking for alcohol is determined mainly by our genes. After each daily
raid other human parallels soon appear. But unlike us, monkeys that are heavy
drinkers make better leaders, respected by other monkeys. They seem to tolerate
leaders that monkey around. Like monkeys our taste for alcohol began when we
scoured the forest for ripe fermenting fruit. Food and alcohol became linked
with intoxicating effect.