Can Monkeys Cry? Find Out!

Monkeys smiling

Can monkeys cry? It’s a question that has puzzled people for centuries. After all, humans are the only species known to shed tears as a form of emotional expression. But what about our closest primate relatives – can they cry too?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the science behind monkey tears and explore the many different theories surrounding this fascinating topic. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not monkeys can cry and what this might mean for our understanding of animal emotions.

What are tears?

Before we can answer the question of whether or not monkeys can cry, it’s important to understand what tears are and why we shed them. Tears are a complex mixture of water, oils, and antibodies that help to keep our eyes moist and protected. They are produced by the lacrimal glands, which are located above the outer corner of each eye.

There are three different types of tears: basal, reflex, and emotional. Basal tears are produced constantly and help to keep the eyes moist and healthy. Reflex tears are triggered by irritants like smoke or onions and help to wash away these foreign substances. Emotional tears, on the other hand, are shed in response to strong emotions like sadness, joy, or pain.

Do monkeys have tear ducts?

One of the main reasons people believe that monkeys can’t cry is because they don’t have visible tear ducts. In humans, the tear ducts are small tubes that carry tears from the eyes to the nose, where they are drained into the nasal cavity. But in monkeys, these ducts are much smaller and more difficult to see.

However, just because the tear ducts in monkeys are small doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t produce tears. In fact, several studies have shown that monkeys do have functioning tear ducts, although they may not be as well-developed as those in humans.

Do monkeys produce tears?

So, if monkeys have tear ducts, do they produce tears? The answer is yes – monkeys do produce tears. However, the amount of tears they produce is much smaller than what we see in humans. This is because their tear ducts are smaller and less efficient at carrying tears away from the eyes.

But just because monkeys produce tears doesn’t necessarily mean that they can cry. After all, reflex tears are a natural response to irritants and don’t necessarily indicate an emotional state. So, what about emotional tears – can monkeys shed tears in response to strong emotions like sadness or joy?

Do monkeys show emotional expressions?

In order to understand whether or not monkeys can cry, we need to look at their emotional expressions. Emotional expressions are the visible signs of emotions, such as facial expressions, body language, and vocalizations.

There is evidence to suggest that monkeys do show emotional expressions. For example, they may display facial expressions of fear, anger, or happiness. They may also engage in behaviors like hugging, grooming, or play-fighting, which are thought to be associated with positive emotions.

However, it’s important to note that the emotional expressions of monkeys may not be the same as those of humans. For example, monkeys may not have the same range of facial expressions as humans, and they may not use the same body language to communicate their emotions.

Can monkeys feel emotions?

Of course, showing emotional expressions is not the same as feeling emotions. So, can monkeys actually feel emotions like sadness or joy?

The answer to this question is not entirely clear. Some researchers believe that monkeys do have the ability to feel emotions, at least to some extent. They point to studies that have shown that monkeys can experience a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and even empathy.

For example, in one study, researchers found that rhesus macaques displayed signs of anxiety and fear when exposed to threatening stimuli. In another study, capuchin monkeys showed signs of empathy when they observed a member of their group being treated unfairly.

However, other researchers argue that the emotional experiences of monkeys may be more limited than those of humans. They point out that monkeys lack the same level of cognitive complexity as humans and may not be able to experience the full range of emotions that we do.

Do monkeys shed tears as a form of emotional expression?

So, we know that monkeys have tear ducts and produce tears, and they may be able to feel emotions. But do they shed tears as a form of emotional expression, like humans do?

There is no clear evidence to support this idea. In fact, most researchers believe that tears are a uniquely human form of emotional expression. They point out that tears are produced by the lacrimal glands, which are much more well-developed in humans than in monkeys.

Furthermore, tears have a number of important functions in humans. They help to keep the eyes moist and healthy, and they contain antibodies that help to fight off infections. In humans, emotional tears also contain higher levels of stress hormones, which may help to regulate our emotional states.

What about other animals – can they cry?

While the question of whether or not monkeys can cry is still up for debate, it’s worth noting that tears are not unique to humans. Many other animals, including dogs, cats, and elephants, also produce tears to keep their eyes moist and healthy.

However, these tears are not the same as emotional tears in humans. In other animals, tears are a purely physiological response and do not indicate an emotional state. For example, when a dog’s eyes water after being exposed to smoke, it is not because the dog is feeling sad – it is simply a reflex response to an irritant.


In conclusion, the question of whether or not monkeys can cry is still a topic of debate among scientists. While it is clear that monkeys have tear ducts and produce tears, it is not yet known whether they shed tears as a form of emotional expression.

What is clear, however, is that monkeys are complex and intelligent animals with their own unique emotional experiences. Further research is needed to better understand the emotional lives of monkeys and other animals, and how they compare to our own.

David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of

Recent Posts