Why Do Monkeys Kidnap Baby Monkeys -What about Human Babies?

Monkeys are one of the world’s most intelligent animals. In fact, their brain is almost 93% identical to the human brain. Monkeys have very sophisticated emotions (like humans) and they can think and make decisions.

Monkeys, however, are known to be very cheeky and very crafty indeed!

They are known to pull rather baffling stunts, which confuses some of the most intelligent and experienced zoologists around the world.

One of which is why do some monkeys like to kidnap baby monkeys?

Why Do Monkeys Kidnap Baby Monkeys?

The reason why monkeys kidnap other baby monkeys, is that many female monkeys are interested in new-born babies. They will try to groom the new-born, try to touch the baby or ultimately kidnap the baby from the mother.

This happens a lot between high ranking female monkeys, and low-ranking mothers and their babies. A low-ranking mother may never see her baby again if it is kidnapped by a high-ranking female. To prevent being kidnapped, a baby monkey may cling extremely hard onto its mother, to protect and support itself.

It is exceedingly rare however that the monkey mother will try to retrieve its kidnapped child in fear that they could die. The most common breed to kidnap monkey babies is the rhesus macaques- an endangered breed mostly seen in South Asia and China.

It is rare, that a male monkey will kidnap. Mainly as they are less interested in new-born babies. Also, if a baby dies, the mother will not reproduce for a year.

Kidnapping then is seen by many high-ranking females, to decrease the likelihood of lower ranking females reproducing.


How Often Do Monkeys Kidnap Baby Monkeys?

There have been many cases of this- particularly in India and China. However, there have been a few rare cases in America, particularly Florida. Whenever any female gives birth, there is always a risk of the baby being kidnapped.

Higher-rank females, have less of a risk since they are powerful however low-rank females are at great risk, and considering monkeys live in great packs it is extremely easy for high rank females to lure the babies in.

A low-ranking female may give birth every 1 to 2 years from the ages of 3 to 20.

That then is at least 10 children- which means it is highly likely that one of them will be kidnapped. It is also likely the baby is being kidnapped to be killed.

Monkies are known to kidnap other baby monkeys
Monkies are known to kidnap other baby monkeys

Why Do Macaques And Orangutans Steal Babies?

Macaques and Orangutans are both remarkably similar in their reasoning. Although Orangutans are much calmer than Macaques, they do share similar habitats and behaviours such as kidnapping babies.

The main reason is higher-ranked females do not want lower-ranked females to keep reproducing and increasing the population. Ironic as both species are somewhat endangered.

However, Orangutans are a lot slower to reproduce and to gain independence. A mother orangutan may start to become sexually active at the age of 12- it is likely they will give birth at 16 or 17 and will not reproduce again for another seven years. Therefore, mother orangutans keep their children close to them to lower the risk of being kidnapped.

Why Do Male And Female Monkeys Do It?

It is exceedingly rare that a male Macaques will kidnap a baby monkey, and it is known that Male orangutans will not kidnap a baby. Female monkeys tend to be the ones kidnapping the babies, since it is their major concern.

Male species tend to be less interested however, if a male sees its female companion being attacked within a kidnapping, it may intervene and take the baby.

Female higher-rank species want to keep themselves powerful. By kidnapping babies, it tells the lower-ranked females to obey orders and not to turn against the higher rank species. Furthermore, it can make lower-rank species feel weaker and open to manipulation.

  • Female Monkeys

Only higher-rank monkeys tend to kidnap baby monkeys. They want to make sure that lower-rank females are fearful of them and that they have less of a chance to reproduce. This way, the population within the pack can be controlled and kept at a comfortable level for the higher-rank species.

  • Male Monkeys

Male monkeys rarely kidnap baby monkeys. However, if it sees a baby monkey or its mother attacking or provoking its family, it can attack and potentially kidnap the baby. If a female higher rank monkey is being attacked by a lower-rank mother, then a male may intervene.

How do monkeys protect their young?

A baby monkey for the first part of its life will always cling on to its mother. This is so it can avoid getting lost and reducing the risk of abduction.

A mothering monkey will always keep their baby close to them to create a connection and to show that they are the baby’s mother. Furthermore, the baby will sometimes spend time on the mother’s back as she walks.

Also, like humans the mother monkey will stare at the baby monkey with loving eyes and will defend the baby with her life if she must.

It's almost unheard that a Male monkey would steal a baby monkey
It’s almost unheard that a Male monkey would steal a baby monkey

Do monkeys steal human babies?

Yes. The reason is monkeys are remarkably like humans. In small villages this can be a common sight, since the higher-ranked monkey knows that the villagers are a lot weaker and can’t do as much to stop them.

It is exceedingly rare that monkeys steal babies in urbanized areas, as they risk being shot or captured by humans. Macaques and Chimpanzees tend to steal human babies more than any other species.

When stealing a human baby, monkeys usually will go in larger packs. Usually they steal the baby to play with it and discover their features.

There have been cases of death such as one in Uganda, where a 2-year-old Human baby girl was kidnapped by Chimpanzees and mutilated. The human baby had her intestines ripped out of her digestive system whilst her stomach was left wide open.

Macaques have also killed human babies. A village in India reported a human baby being kidnapped by a Macaques pack. It died of asphyxia after being dropped in a well.

Are there monkeys trained to kidnap human babies?

In most cases no. It is not even a priority for parent monkeys to teach their children to even interact with humans let alone kidnap them.

Monkeys are trained to hunt for food which is why you do see them steal the likes of peanuts, crisps, bananas etc. A monkey will steal a baby just as it is curious as like humans, they are also trained to explore new things.

A monkey will only injure or kill the baby if it feels threatened.

Some humans may train monkeys to steal human babies, but that would be only for a joke. If a human did want to kidnap a baby, it is highly unlikely they would use monkeys.

There have been cases where lonely monkeys may kidnap a human baby for interaction, but this is exceedingly rare and not something which usually would happen.

Are Monkeys Dangerous Towards Human Babies?

Monkeys (especially Macaques)  can carry Hepatitis B. Lethal to humans; however, it is only transmitted if a monkey bites you. In 1997 a female human did die in the USA after being bitten by one in a Sanctuary. If a monkey does kidnap a human baby, it will only bite it if it feels threatened. The bite however will probably infect them with Hepatitis B and kill them.

Where do monkeys kidnap baby monkeys the most?

Primarily in Southern Asia or parts of Africa. Mainly in jungle areas where there are less humans living there. Urbanized areas are less common for this since it is more of a risk. Furthermore, it is exceedingly rare for monkey babies to be kidnapped in research centres, sanctuaries or zoo’s, since they have the threat of humans.

In Conclusion

Monkeys do steal babies. Both human and monkey. The main species to do this is the Macaque which resides mostly in South Asia or the Chimpanzee which mostly resides in Asia and Africa. Female higher-rank monkeys will kidnap babies from lower-rank mothers in order to control population and to gain power.

A kidnap may start by grooming or in some cases force. Once the baby has been kidnapped it will most likely be killed or seriously injured.

Male monkeys may sometimes intervene; however, it is exceedingly rare. Male orangutans will also never touch a baby monkey. It is the female higher- rank monkey who holds the largest interest in kidnapping.

Human babies may only be kidnapped through curiosity or fear. They will also only be killed if the Monkey feels threatened. A monkey can kill a human only through biting it. Macaques are known to carry Hepatitis B which will kill a baby human.