Monkeys are indeed fascinating animals. However, in my time here in Taiwan, I have found that, other than being the interesting animals they are, the word monkey is an instrumental teaching tool.
Monkeys are curious and mischievous animals. Whatever they may be, they have a soft spot in the hearts of Taiwanese. Saying the word almost immediately commands attention.
If you want to try it, say something like this to a group of unmotivated students in a first class: "Write your English names on the board. The last person to write their name is a monkey." And just watch them fly!!!
Why does it peak Taiwanese interest? Well it may be one of those key English words drilled in school. That's my theory, at least.
Let me know if you have any more key words like this to share...