Nonhuman primates (referred to as primates in this study) are sometimes revered as gods, abhorred as evil spirits, killed for food because they damage crops, or butchered for sport. Primates' perceived similarity to humans places them in an anomalous position. While some human groups accept the idea that primates "straddle" the human-nonhuman boundary, for others this resemblance is a violation of the human-animal divide. In this study we use two case studies to explore how people's perceptions of primates are often influenced by these animals' apparent similarity to humans, creating expectations, founded within a "human morality" about how primates should interact with people. When animals transgress these social rules, they are measured against the same moral framework as humans. This has implications for how people view and respond to certain kinds of primate behaviors, their willingness to tolerate co-existence with primates and their likely support for primate conservation initiatives.