Whether monkeys eat apples is a question many people have when observing these intelligent animals. The quick answer is yes, monkeys do eat apples when given the chance.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we will explore the details around monkeys and apples. We will look at what types of monkeys eat apples, which parts of the apple they consume, how apples fit into their natural diets, and any risks or benefits of monkeys eating this popular fruit.

What Kinds of Monkeys Eat Apples?

Capuchin Monkeys

Capuchin monkeys are omnivorous and enjoy eating a wide variety of fruits, including apples. These clever New World monkeys have been observed foraging for apples in the wild and even stealing apples from humans!

Capuchins use their nimble fingers and dexterous hands to hold, smell, and carefully eat apples. They seem to relish the sweet taste. Captive capuchins are often fed apples as treats by caretakers.

Squirrel Monkeys

The small and energetic squirrel monkey is another New World primate that consumes apples as part of its varied diet. Squirrel monkeys live in tropical forests and get most of their moisture from the fruits they eat, including apples, mangoes, and bananas.

Researchers have found that apples are an important seasonal food source sustaining squirrel monkey populations when other fruit is scarce. These monkeys aren’t picky either – they will eat both ripe and unripe apples!

Spider Monkeys

Spider monkeys are large, lanky primates that inhabit Central and South American rainforests. They utilize their long arms and tails to swing acrobatically through the trees and forage for fruit. Apples grow in some parts of their habitat and provide a nutritious snack for active spider monkeys.

They grasp apples with their hands, bring them to their mouths, and nibble around the outside to remove the skin first before consuming the sweet, juicy interior flesh.


Chimpanzees are humanity’s closest living primate relatives. These highly intelligent apes eat a flexible diet including fruit. Wild chimps will readily eat apples growing in their African forest homes.

Researchers observing chimps notice they often eat apples slowly and carefully, suggesting they appreciate the appetizing sweet taste. Some scientists even give captive chimps apples as cognitive test rewards! Chimps examine and handle apples similar to humans before taking bite after juicy bite.


Gibbons are petite, long-armed apes that live in southeast Asia’s tropical forests. They are primarily frugivores, feeding on ripe fruit like apples found high in the forest canopy. Gibbons employ a specialized mode of fast brachiation locomotion, allowing them to swiftly access fruit trees across vast home ranges.

Field researchers have observed gibbons selectively picking apples off branches, peeling the skin with their hands, then happily munching away as juice drips down their furry chins!


Macaques are opportunistic Old World monkeys adapted to a wide range of environments across Asia and North Africa. They are highly omnivorous and will eat any apples they encounter. Japanese macaques are famous for relaxing in natural hot springs, but they spend most of their time foraging through snowy mountains for berries, leaves, and apples.

Fascinatingly, some macaque groups have learned to wash sandy apples in rivers before eating them – evidence of impressive intelligence and adaptation!

Parts of the Apple Consumed


The fleshy part of the apple is the most commonly eaten part for humans. The flesh contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that offer tremendous health benefits. Apples are packed with polyphenols, which act as antioxidants to protect cells from damage.

The fiber in apples also helps regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Eating apples regularly can boost heart health and reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and stroke. Surveys show most people eat apples whole or sliced, enjoying the sweet, juicy flesh as a snack or part of a meal.

Monkeys also relish the flesh of apples. The sweet taste appeals to their palate, and the flesh provides beneficial nutrients like vitamin C. Wild monkeys will forage for apples when available and quickly consume the flesh down to the core.

In laboratories and zoos, apples are commonly used as treats and enrichment for monkeys. Caregivers often slice apples or hang whole apples in monkeys’ enclosures to stimulate natural foraging behaviors.

The flesh, or pulp, makes up the largest, most nutritious portion of the apple eaten by humans and monkeys alike.


Apples contain several small, edible seeds embedded in the flesh near the core. Many people eat apples seeds without noticing, as they are small and easily chewed. However, apple seeds do contain trace amounts of cyanide compounds.

While the amount is too small to be dangerous to humans, it’s recommended to avoid making apples seeds a regular part of your diet.

Monkeys will also ingest apple seeds when eating the fruits but do not seem deterred by the slight toxicity. The number of seeds monkeys consume is minimal compared to their typical diet in the wild, so they do not cause any adverse health effects.

In fact, seeds provide extra fiber and nutrients like vitamin E. Some zoos have used apples without seeds to avoid excessive exposure. Overall, both humans and monkeys can safely eat small quantities of apple seeds, though the flesh remains the healthiest part for regular consumption.


The stem of an apple is the thin, woody strand that connects the apple to the tree branch. It is generally not eaten and instead trimmed off before eating the flesh. The stem does not offer significant nutritional value or health benefits.

However, it does contain high amounts of fiber, which gives it potential uses.

Some people use dried, ground apple stems in herbal teas or supplements due to the fiber content. The stems provide a compound called pectin that may help relieve digestive issues when consumed in large quantities.

But in general, apple stems are considered inedible and not commonly consumed by humans.

Monkeys also avoid eating the stem portion of apples. Wild monkeys will pick apples and immediately discard the stem piece. Those feeding on provisioned apples tend to ignore the stem as well. While not toxic, the woody stem provides minimal nutritional value that makes it unappetizing for human and monkey consumption.


Apple skin is an exceptionally nutritious part that offers benefits many people miss out on if the peel is discarded. Apple peels contain high levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. In fact, much of an apple’s vitamin C and polyphenol content can be found concentrated in the skin.

Eating apples unpeeled provides extra fiber for the heart and digestion while boosting the overall nutrient content.

Monkeys also derive great nutritional value from apple peels. In the wild, monkeys will eat the entire apple, including the skin. The skin enhances the sweetness and provides fiber and beneficial plant compounds. Zookeepers often hand out whole apples with the peel intact for monkeys to munch on.

Consuming the skin enhances the health benefits monkeys receive from apple treats. So for both humans and monkeys, apple skin should be eaten to extract the greatest nutritional rewards.

Role of Apples in the Monkey Diet

Wild Diet

In their natural habitats, most monkey species do not actually eat apples as part of their regular diets. As primarily tropical animals, monkeys evolved to eat fruits and vegetation native to the lush rainforests and jungles where they live.

This includes fruits like mangoes, figs, bananas, and custard apples, as well as leaves, seeds, nuts, flowers, buds, and insects.

However, in some temperate forest habitats where apple trees grow, such as in parts of China and Japan, monkeys may occasionally snack on apples when they come across them. For example, Japanese macaques are sometimes seen eating fallen apples in the forests of Honshū island.

But these fruits likely make up only a tiny fraction of their diverse wild diets.

Captive Diet

In zoos, wildlife parks, labs, and other captive settings, monkeys are often fed apples as part of their specialized dietary regimen. Apples make a convenient and nutritious snack or training treat for captive primates. Most species seem to eagerly accept and relish this fruit.

For example, a 2013 nutrition study of captive rhesus macaques found that apples were among the most widely consumed fruits provided. On average, the monkeys voluntarily ate 0.14 lbs of apple per monkey per day. This indicates they actively choose apples as part of their intake when available.

Why are apples such a staple food for captive monkeys? There are a few key reasons:

  • Apples are nutritious – high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Inexpensive to purchase in bulk
  • Most monkeys seem to find them tasty and appealing

The characteristics above make apples a practical, affordable way to feed primates in managed care and ensure their health. This explains why they feature so prominently in captive diets across various monkey research centers, zoos, and sanctuaries worldwide.

Wild Diet Captive Diet
Primarily fruits like mangoes, figs, bananas Includes more supplemental foods like apples
Also eat leaves, seeds, nuts, insects etc. Specialized menu to meet nutritional needs
Apples rarely if ever eaten Apples commonly fed for health and convenience

Risks and Benefits of Apple Consumption

Nutritional Value

Apples are incredibly nutritious and offer many health benefits. One medium apple contains 95 calories and has no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Apples are packed with fiber, vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants.

The saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” exists for a reason – apples support heart health, reduce levels of bad cholesterol, lower risk of diabetes, and may even protect against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Choking Hazards

While apples offer tremendous nutritional value, there are some risks associated with them as well. Whole apples present a choking hazard for monkeys and humans alike. Apple slices can get lodged in the throat and block airways.

This is especially dangerous for young monkeys who haven’t developed strong teeth and jaw muscles to properly chew apples. It’s best to cut apples into thin slices or small chunks before feeding them to monkeys.

Pesticide Exposure

Many apples are sprayed with pesticides and insecticides during growth to protect crops. While washing apples can remove some residue, monkeys eating conventionally-grown apples may ingest harmful chemicals.

Studies show pesticides can accumulate in body tissues over time, potentially causing neurological, reproductive or cancer risks. Choosing organic apples reduces exposure to these toxins.

Sugar Content

Apples have a moderately high sugar content, with about 13 grams of sugar per medium fruit. While the fiber in apples slows sugar absorption to an extent, regular apple consumption can pose dental risks. Bacteria in the mouth feed on apple sugar and produce acids that erode tooth enamel.

Sugary diets also increase risk for diabetes. Moderating apple intake and brushing monkey’s teeth can offset these risks.


In conclusion, many types of monkeys are eager apple eaters when given the chance. They consume various parts of the apple for nutrition and enjoyment. While apples offer benefits, moderation is wise for captive monkeys.

By understanding more about the relationship between monkeys and this popular fruit, we gain further insight into their dietary behaviors and needs.

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