You might have come across a group of monkeys running around trying to grab food from people at the park. While it’s tempting to offer monkeys your lunch or snack while observing them, you still want to be careful about what you feed them. Popcorn is a common snack people sometimes feed to monkeys while also wondering if it’s appropriate for the animals.

Monkeys eat popcorn, and they enjoy it. Although popcorn isn’t something monkeys eat in the wild, they’ve learned to eat it just like people do. Zookeepers use popcorn as a treat for monkeys, and they seem to enjoy snacking on it. 

The rest of this article will explain when monkeys eat popcorn, whether or not it’s safe for them to do so, and some other human snack foods that monkeys like to eat. It also discusses some key nutrients that monkeys receive from popcorn. 

Do Monkeys Eat Popcorn?

If you’re wondering if it’s okay to give monkeys popcorn, you’d be surprised with the answer.

Monkeys do eat popcorn, but it’s not their main food. Popcorn is a snack that monkeys enjoy. In the wild, monkeys typically don’t eat popcorn. But monkeys living in the zoo or near humans sometimes eat popcorn if the snack is provided to them. 

You may also wonder why monkeys eat popcorn.

As mentioned in this New York Times article, research shows that social cues from monkeys influence other monkeys, explaining why monkeys eat popcorn.

Monkeys eat popcorn because they may have seen other monkeys do it. There have also been scientific studies showing that monkeys imitate human behavior as well. Monkeys even tend to prefer people who imitate them.

This video from the Long Island Aquarium shows a Japanese Snow Monkey chowing down on some fresh popcorn:

Zookeepers use this tasty treat to break up the monotony of a monkey’s regular diet on special occasions. Monkeys enjoy this departure from routine as popcorn is a fun, tasty treat.

Can Monkeys Imitate Food Preferences?

You might think if monkeys imitate sign language, they might even be able to imitate food preferences.

Monkeys can imitate food preferences. According to a study done by the University of St. Andrews, Vervet monkeys will adopt new food preferences based on surrounding monkeys’ behavior. 

When observing other animals eating a different color of corn, the monkeys began to prefer the same color they saw their neighbors eat! Monkeys enjoy mimicking behavior, so it’s no surprise that they eat what they see other monkeys and even humans eating!  

Should You Feed Monkeys Popcorn at the Zoo or in the Jungle?

It’s best that you don’t feed monkeys popcorn at the zoo or in the jungle. Like many other foods that humans eat, popcorn isn’t always nutritious—they’re bad for both humans and monkeys. Some popcorns contain high sugar, oil, salt, and preservatives.

The following discusses in more detail why you should avoid feeding monkeys at a zoo or in the wild:

  • Monkeys can’t eat many foods that humans eat. They eat a wide variety of foods. However, junk food high in salt, preservatives, and oil is not suitable for the monkeys’ health.
  • If you feed monkeys in the wild, they’ll depend on human generosity. Reliance on human feeding can lead to problems for both the monkeys and humans. Monkeys that get too used to being fed by people can lose interest in hunting for their food. They can also develop aggression towards humans if they no longer receive food.
  • Humans can spread disease to monkeys by feeding them. There are multiple viruses that humans can pass to monkeys inadvertently by providing them food by hand. 
  • Certain foods can be a choking hazard for monkeys as well. Since popcorn can range in size and consistency, it’s another reason to leave treat responsibility to the zookeepers.

Can Professional Zookeepers Feed Monkeys Popcorn?

Professional zookeepers, even animal trainers, can feed monkeys popcorn. Monkeys must eat popcorn free of any added salt or oils for safe consumption. In short, it’s okay for monkeys to eat popcorn, but they shouldn’t eat unhealthy popcorn like that from a movie theater bucket. 

Is Popcorn Healthy for Monkeys To Eat?

Popcorn is healthy for monkeys to eat in moderation. Monkeys can keep many types of human foods as long as they’re not high in sugar, salt, oil, or preservatives. Giving monkeys popcorn is okay because it may encourage them to eat less meat, thus reducing their cholesterol—good for them!

Is Popcorn a Good Source of Protein for Monkeys?

Popcorn is a pretty good source of protein for snack food! While there certainly isn’t enough to rely on as a primary source, the average serving of popcorn contains 3 grams (0.105 oz) of protein. 

Even if this isn’t a large amount, it contributes to the monkey’s protein source while they’re snacking and thus could cut down on the amount of meat they consume, even if by just a few bites. 

Is Popcorn a Good Source of Fiber for Monkeys?

Popcorn is a surprisingly good source of fiber. The average serving of popcorn contains 3.5 grams (0.12 oz) of fiber. That said, it’s okay for monkeys to snack on popcorn. However, they shouldn’t eat too much popcorn. Also, they should eat plain popcorn only.

Does Popcorn Have Vitamins and Minerals That Monkeys Need?

A monkey’s diet in the wild is surprisingly rich in vitamins and minerals. A UC Berkeley scientist concluded that a monkey’s diet is much higher in vitamins and minerals than a human diet. Popcorn doesn’t make up that diet, though. That may lead you to wonder if popcorn have vitamins and minerals that monkeys need.

Popcorn has essential vitamins and minerals that monkeys need. It offers vitamin A and K, potassium, and calcium. However, popcorn can’t be the only source of these vitamins and minerals for monkeys. Still, it’s a good snack that includes some of their essential nutrients. 


Monkeys have a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein in the wild. Popcorn is a great snack that includes many of these essential nutritious elements. Monkeys love to eat popcorn much like humans do as it is a fun food to snack on and something different from their everyday diet. 

Sure, monkeys eat popcorn, but we need to leave the job of feeding them to the professionals. Monkeys need a special popcorn free of any salt or excessive oils. Next time you’re at the zoo, pay attention because the monkeys might be having a fun popcorn snack!

Additional Information On Animals Eating Popcorn

Are you curious about what animals can eat popcorn? Click here for an animal overview or click on an animal below to find out specific details:

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