Was The Lorax inspired by Orange Kenyan Monkeys?

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax/Dr. Seuss


The Lorax from the iconic Dr. Seuss book and movie is the protector of the trees and forest. Often The Lorax is just described as an irate hairy orange creature with a mustache.

Now, Years later some researchers are suggesting that the book (and movie) The Lorax may have been inspired by one of Dr. Seuss’ visits to Kenya. The orange creature known as The Lorax might actually be a mustachioed patas monkey.

Donald Pease, who is known as an expert on Dr. Seuss and is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at none other than Dartmouth College is bringing to light how much the patas monkey resembles the Dr. Seuss character The Lorax.

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Pease states “The patas monkey is in a commensalistic relationship with the whistling thorn acacia trees,” “That means that it depends upon the acacia tree as its primary source of nutriment but it doesn’t threaten the survivability of the acacia trees.”

Charles Cohen, who is a Dr. Seuss expert, even helps confirm this theory.

“Images clung to [Seuss’s] mind like barnacles,” he said, “so it’s certainly possible that things he saw in Africa could have been incorporated into The Lorax. For example, it might have been interesting to see a correlation proposed between whistling thorn acacias and the prickly grickle-grass in the book. However, the authors focused on truffula trees and the Lorax character, both of which much more closely resemble things [Seuss] drew long before his trip to Africa than they do the vegetation and animals suggested in this article.”

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With this being said, Pease made it clear that not all of Dr. Seuss’ characters and artwork was inspired from nature. “Many of them are completely fanciful, I think – he loved to invent,” he said. “I find it very difficult to imagine a creature in the Arctic or Antarctic that would resemble the Grinch.”

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