December 14 is Monkey Day! We may look just a bit different from our primate pals, but we shouldn’t forget that we share a common ancestor with them in chimpanzees! Warm up those vocal cords and get ready to unleash your wildest calls and cries in observance of this holiday, which celebrates not just monkeys, but everything simian. A part of the human family tree, monkeys, are celebrated on Monkey Day on December 14.
History of Monkey Day
It isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact moment that monkeys emerged as a unique species within the animal kingdom. Still, it is believed that their appearance took place approximately 60 million years ago. This vast amount of time would pass, month by year by millennia, creeping and speeding along, without a National Monkey Day! At long last, though, thanks to two pioneering college students, this would change in the year 2000.
Casey Sorrow and Erik Millikin, studying art at Michigan State University, are responsible for creating this simian-centric celebratory day. Sorrow (fittingly) would admit to the Detroit Metro Times that he experienced a form of malaise around the holiday season and felt compelled to find a way to combat these December blues. After jokingly jotting down “Monkey Day” in a friend’s calendar, Sorrow took the idea and ran with it: when December 14 rolled around, he and his art school friends dressed up as monkeys and ran amok, putting on their best monkey impressions.
They would incorporate ideas related to their newly-formed holiday into their artwork and homemade comics. Publishing these pieces online allowed for the notion of a Monkey Day to spread, and now, decades on, the day is observed worldwide in countries including Germany, India, and Thailand.
What started as a bit of fun has evolved into a full-blown operation. Monkey Day serves as an essential anniversary each year for raising awareness of modern threats to monkeys, with entities such as National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and Greenpeace promoting the day. Sorrow and Millikin have also been instrumental in utilizing monkey-themed art as vehicles to serve this end, as well. Their work has brought an entirely new understanding of “monkey business!”
Monkey Day Timeline
Origins of Monkey
The word “monkey” originated in a German version of the Reynard the Fox fable.
Dawn of Creation
Casey Sorrow and Erik Millikin celebrate the inaugural Monkey Day with their classmates at Michigan State University.
Fit for a King
Peter Jackson’s 2005 film King Kong is released on the fifth anniversary of Monkey Day.
Erik Millikin sends several works of Monkey Day-themed mail to strangers; among the recipients were Koko (the gorilla that can use sign language) and then-president Barack Obama.
Traditions of National Monkey Day
Create Monkey-Themed Art
The first Monkey Day may have been just a few college kids getting together to monkey around, but the day gained popularity because of the art produced by Sorrow and Millikin. Carry on this tradition by painting or drawing some monkey art of your own!
Make Monkey-Shaped Foods
Bananas are the first food that comes to mind when we think of monkeys, and cooking up some banana muffins wouldn’t be out of place today. You could also bake monkey-shaped cookies, or, if you want to get even further from a monkey’s natural diet, scoop up some Chunky Monkey Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!
National Monkey Day By The Numbers
200 — the number of monkey species.
50 — the number of monkeys remaining from the Cat Ba Langur species.
50% increase in a monkey’s insulation after a grooming session.
200 — the number of Barbary macaques that inhabit Gibraltar.
50% — the percentage decline in the population of Barbary macaques over the past 24 years.
Five inches — the length of the pygmy monkey.
Four ounces — the weight of a pygmy monkey in adulthood.
Twenty-five pounds — the weight of a female mandrill.
Monkey Day Faqs
What is national Monkey Day?
National Monkey Day is a day dedicated entirely to celebrating monkeys everywhere! A group of ambitious and fun-loving college students in 2000 started it.
Why do we celebrate Monkey Day?
We celebrate Monkey Day not only to give monkey-lovers a chance to voice their affection for these animals but also to help raise awareness for the challenges facing the continued existence of monkeys in the world.
Which day is celebrated on December 14?
National Monkey Day is celebrated on December 14, along with National Free Shipping Day and National Bouillabaisse Day!
Monkey Day Activities
- Primate, donate, celebrate
- Help collect funds to support ethical animal research, primate awareness programs, or preserves for aging monkeys.
- Go to the zoo
- It’s fun to watch the animals we love so much, and many zoos around the country will have special programs and initiatives focusing specifically on monkeys on December 14!
- Consume monkey media
- From Curious George to Aladdin’s Abu, entertainment featuring primates can be fun for the whole family. Find an appropriate film and get watching!
5 Must-know Facts About Monkeys
- A tail story
- One defining difference between monkeys and other primates is the tail.
- Where they are mostly found
- Monkeys are primates found primarily in tropical rainforests.
- Endangered species
- Among the endangered species of monkeys are the cotton-headed tamarin, the Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin, and the pied tamarin.
- Monkey love
- For monkeys, picking dirt and bugs off their fellow monkeys is a form of affection.
- The smallest monkeys
- Pygmy marmosets are the world’s most miniature monkeys.
Why We Love Monkey Day
- It’s a great day to monkey around
- Feel free to interpret Monkey Day in a less literal way and use it as an opportunity to cut loose! Waste time, mess around, keep it fun… Everyone needs a good excuse to get silly sometimes!
- It raises much-needed awareness
- Though not everyone may know it, half of the 262 species of monkeys worldwide are threatened with extinction. Monkey Day is vital in educating people about these animals’ present dangers.
- Monkeys are cute
- Not only are they playful, intelligent, and friendly, but monkeys are also some of the cutest animals around!