Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/November 1899/Correspondence


Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Dear Sir: In connection with the discussion of the interesting subject Do Animals Reason? permit me to relate the following incident in support of the affirmative side of the question:

Some years ago. before the establishment of the National Zoölogical Park in this city, Dr. Frank Baker, the curator, kept a small nucleus of animals in the rear of the National Museum; among this collection were several monkeys. On a hot summer day, as I was passing the monkey cage I handed to one of the monkeys a large piece of fresh molasses taffy. The animal at once carried it to his mouth and commenced to bite it. The candy was somewhat soft, and stuck to the monkey's paws. He looked at his paws, licked them with his tongue, and then turned his head from side to side looking about the cage. Then, taking the candy in his mouth, he sprang to the farther end of the cage and picked up a wad of brown paper. This ball of paper he carefully unfolded, and, laying it down on the floor of the cage, carefully smoothed out the folds of the paper with both paws. After he had smoothed it out to his satisfaction, he took the piece of taffy from his mouth and laid it in the center of the piece of paper and folded the paper over the candy, leaving a part of it exposed. He then sat back on his haunches and ate the candy, first wiping one paw and then the other on his hip, just as any boy or man might do.

If that monkey did not show reason, what would you call it?

Yours etc.,H. O. Hall,
Library Surgeon General's Office, United States Army.
Washington, D. C, October 2, 1809.