According to new research published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal, chimpanzees go bananas over alcohol. A research team in Bossou, Guinea, West Africa has discovered a number of chimpanzees who habitually pilfer palm wine. Specifically, the native raffia palm reportedly produces a sugary sap that quickly ferments. It is a fast favorite of the local villagers.
English scientists employed multiple video cameras to tape 51 separate occasions on which the chimpanzees stormed into the area and using folded leaves, dipped them into the villagers drinking cups and licked the sap off. Much like human beings, the chimpanzees sometimes choose to drink alone and sometimes choose to be social drinkers.
The palm sap is comparatively weak. It has an alcohol content of approximately 3.1 percent. The investigative team determined that regardless of gender, the chimpanzees consumed somewhere between one tenth of an ounce to just under three ounces at one sitting.
Kimberley J Hockings, a behavioral ecologist at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England and lead author of the study, could not commit to whether or not the chimpanzees were actually drunk.
She noted: “After drinking palm wine, one adult male chimpanzee seemed particularly restless, and whilst other chimpanzees were making and settling into their night nests, he spent an additional hour moving from tree to tree in an agitated manner.” It is possible that the chimpanzees are drinking the sap because it is nutritious.
After all, the raffia palm sap is actually rich in glucose and sucrose. The sugars are said to make it quite palatable. Hockings could not say if the chimpanzees drank it because they enjoyed the taste.
Hockings and her fellow researchers concluded that the chimpanzees currently had to rely on the local residents to collect the beverage. In the wild, the animals would have a more limited access to alcohol since fermented palm sap is uncommon.