Anthropomorphism: the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.
We humans have an innate tendency to project human traits on animals to make them seem friendlier, more relatable and well, more human. In contrast, we often use animals to point out the worst traits in our peers. Call someone a snake, a weasel, a pig or an ass and we know he’s no good but, thanks to anthropomorphism, snowmen dance, fish sing and people get it into their heads that polar bears need hugs.
Some pictures of monkeys this past week reminded me that it used to be possible to buy monkeys through the mail and the advertisements emphasized how much the monkeys were just like us. Sometimes all it took was to give the monkey a lollipop, like this ad in Field & Stream’s June, 1963 issue.
Another monkey dealer advertising in that same issue took a different approach, using a drawing instead of a photograph. This could have been a cost-cutting measure, allowing him to sell his monkeys for three dollars less. We can only assume the instructions included how to get a ruffled collar over a squirrel monkey’s head.
For those who had a hard time relating to lightning fast primates with dagger-like canine teeth wearing ruffled collars, Aqua-Land Pet offered up something a little different.
Lightning-fast primates with dagger-like teeth carrying tiny rifles. How cute! Aqua-Land Pet also offered baby alligators as an amusing hobby for children. Apparently, alligators were also helpful and friendly. Continue reading