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I saw this rumor on Reddit, which refers to factsanddetails.com and which doesn't indicate the information source. I saw a video of a monkey using a vending machine on College Humor, but that doesn't say whether monkeys have actually started stealing purses or wallets.

Specifically, the claim is:

Monkeys in Mino near Osaka have learned to steal purses and wallets and take out the coins use them to buy drinks and snacks from vending machines.

Is this true?

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    The video shows a trained monkey, so it doesn't apply to wild monkeys. – Martin Scharrer Sep 21 '13 at 6:40
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    I went hunting for the origin of this story. I failed to find it, but it seems to mutate a lot. The location is called Minoh but it is also written as Mino, Minoo, Minō and Mino-o. Some stories have the monkeys stealing money, some accepting money and spending it, and some merely stealing from the vending machine when you put money in (sounds more plausible). The rumours existed in 2005. Some say they no longer can do it, now that the drinks cost more than one coin. (Alternatively, maybe the vending machines were changed to avoid the problem??) – Oddthinking Sep 28 '13 at 10:23
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    It's well known monkeys are clever little bast... Possibly one of them were trying to find food (because people destroyed their habitats and feeding routine now they must steal from man to survive) and then seen a guy buying drink/food from a vending machine. In my opinion any animal can think about it. After it watches people getting food from a box in change of some metal, over and over again, it finally tries the man's way. This has a real high possibility. There is a gorilla that can speak with humans by using signs. documentarystorm.com/koko-a-talking-gorilla – Berker Yüceer Oct 3 '13 at 9:09
  • @Oddthinking the location is called 箕面市 and all we on this side of the rock can do is to use indo-arabic characters that sound like what the natives speak, but then there are tons of versions. – Mindwin May 8 '17 at 14:21
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The claim is plausible. Let's break it down into several components:

Q: Are monkeys capable of stealing wallets or learning to use vending machines?

A: Certainly. There is ample video evidence of monkeys stealing wallets and using vending machines. Token-based food vending is common practice in studies of animal behavior.

Q: Are simians capable of learning how to use vending machines on their own?

A: Yes. See "Socially biased learning in monkeys" by Fragaszy and Visalberghi in Animal Learning & Behavior (2004) 32: 24 among similar studies.

[...] we presented two different food-providing apparatuses to two groups of monkeys. One apparatus functioned like a vending machine [...] When a rod chained to the apparatus was inserted far enough into a transparent tube, a small quantity of sunflower seeds fell into a cup below the tube [...] Several monkeys in each group learned to solve these problem (p.25).

Q: Do monkeys in Mino near Osaka participate in the above activities?

A: There are anecdotal accounts of that happening on TripAdvisor and Travel Wire Asia.

Incidentally, chimps (not monkeys) can teach the use of vending machines to other chimps and save money and transfer tokens for the use in vending machines. Dogs have been observed to ride the subway to and from a specific location. Animals are pretty smart!

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protected by Sklivvz May 7 '17 at 23:41

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