According to the study, the Lorax and the patas monkey share several traits, from their stout primate stature to their bushy faces and even their voices.
“[I]t is probable that Geisel encountered [patas monkeys] at the Mount Kenya Safari Club,” the study says. “Even the voice of the Lorax (a ‘sawdusty sneeze’) resembles the ‘whoo-wherr’ vocalization of patas monkeys; the ‘whoo’ is a loud, wheezing expiration of air.”
The similarities don’t stop there. The researchers also noted the Lorax’s beloved Truffula trees not only resemble the whistling thorn acacia, a type of tree found on the African Savannah, but that particular tree actually provides food for the patas monkey.
While all of this is informed conjecture (after all, Dr. Seuss wrote and drew a lot of really weird stuff), the appearance of the Lorax (the character) combined with the purposeful ecological message of “The Lorax” (the book) do paint an interesting picture.
“These findings support our hypothesis that Geisel drew inspiration from a cercopithecine monkey and its ecology,” the study reads. “When put together with the fact that the book was written while on safari in Kenya, the coincidence seems striking.”