Monkeys are highly social animals that primarily survive in the wild by forming large, cooperative groups. Experienced adults in the group are able to pass on survival skills to their young.

The socialization of monkeys is very important to their survival, as they do not possess keen inherent survival instincts. Aside from demonstrating skills to one another, living as a group allows monkeys to forage over a wide area for food and have a warning system for the approach of danger.

Monkey diet varies by species, but they are primarily vegetarian, foraging for fruits, nuts, leaves, seeds and flowers. They may also eat small insects, lizards and the eggs of birds and other animals if they find them. Unlike other types of primates, monkeys do not use tools, with the exception of capuchins, who have been observed using rocks to smash nuts.

Monkey species that live in trees generally only have to worry about large birds, such as eagles, preying on them. Monkeys that live on the ground face a wider range of threats, including lions, cheetahs, leopards and jackals. These monkeys generally have a close heirarchy led by the largest and strongest males, who coordinate defensive efforts when the group is threatened.