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Monkey mugs

Photographer Jill Greenberg captures the essence of primativity in our simian cousins

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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It all started in the fall of 2001, when accomplished studio photographer Jill Greenberg was shooting an advertisement for Target. A White-headed Capuchin monkey that was in the background of a child's party scene appearing in the ad enchanted Greenberg. "I'd never really come in close contact with a monkey before," remembers Greenberg, "so I decided to do a portrait of her." This chance meeting and photo shoot was all Greenberg needed to catch monkey fever. "When I saw how [the capuchin portrait] looked, I just thought it was great, and I decided I was going to do a bunch of monkey portraits."Greenberg took hundreds of monkey and ape photos over the next several years. She would hire monkeys and apes (usually primate actors who had some on-screen experience) and their handlers to sit for shoots in her Los Angeles studio. Though Greenberg was well-known for her studio portraits of...

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