This information sheet aims to give you a basic guide to the primates here in Monkeyland.
Monkeyland was the brainchild of Tony Blignaut whose dream was to create a forest sanctuary that restored the freedom of ex-captive primates.
Having researched the situation of captive primates in South Africa he found that many exotic species lived in terrible conditions in people’s homes. Pet primate owners are often overwhelmed by the difficulties of keeping intelligent wild animals as pets and, prior to Monkeyland they had no place to turn for a more appropriate home. Other primates are kept in equally terrible conditions in circuses and laboratories. Furthermore, many zoos have ‘surplus’ primates, for which they no longer have space. And so, after much hard work, in 1998 the world’s first free-roaming, multi-species primate sanctuary was born.
Monkeyland’s forest encompasses a 12 hectare sanctuary together with a 13 hectare ‘greenbelt’ area which is protected for indigenous Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and other wildlife. The sanctuary is home to more than 550 primates and since most are originally from exotic habitats, our forest does not naturally provide enough appropriate food. We therefore supply a variety of foods to fulfil their needs.
As well as providing a forest sanctuary Monkeyland works closely with the non-profit organisation ‘The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance’ (SAASA) (section 21 PBO no # 2000/000667/08 tax no 9405012148) who were instrumental in building our ‘Special Monkey Home’ for primates who are disabled, orphaned, elderly, blind, elderly or otherwise unable to live happily in the large forested areas. For more information on SAASA please visit www.saasa.org.za
Click here to take a walk through the Monkeyland forest with our safari guide Bert Vos.
Here is a list of species who call Monkeyland home
RED-BACKED BEARDED SAKIS
Latin name: Chiropotes chiropotes
The Bearded Sakis consist of five species of New World monkeys, classified in the genus Chiropotes. In the wild they live in the eastern and central Amazon in South America, ranging through southern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northern and central Brazil. The five species are entirely allopatric, their distributions being separated by major rivers.
Bearded Sakis differ from the closely related Saki monkeys of the genus Pithecia by a pronounced beard, a tuft of hair that extends from its jaw, down its throat to the top of its chest, and is strongly pronounced particularly in the males. The tail is long and hairy, and is used for balance and not for grasping. Bearded Sakis reach from 32 to 51 cm in size and a weigh from 2 to 4 kg.
Like many New World monkeys, Bearded Sakis are diurnal and arboreal. They inhabit tropical rainforests, usually in the crowns of tree. They move on all fours via the branches, spending most of the day searching for food. At the night they sleep clasped to thicker branches, never spending successive nights in the same tree.
Bearded Sakis live together in groups of approximately 18 to 30 primates. Within the group they communicate with bird-like twitter and high whistles. Sometimes they mingle with other primates such as capuchin and squirrel monkeys, so they should feel quite at home at Monkeyland!
Along with the Hanuman Langurs, and the Howler monkeys our Sakis are the latest addition to the Monkeyland family. Arriving in early June 2011 they were 1st placed in our pre-release enclosures, but are now free-roaming and doing exceptionally well. Your safari guide will be able to advise you as to what they have been getting up to since they were released into the forest.
At Monkeyland new arrivals are always placed in pre-release enclosures in order to give the primates time to adjust to their new surroundings and to make some friends on the ‘outside’. The timing of release depends on how long it takes them to adjust and become de-humanised, a process we call the ‘Eden Syndrome’. Some take longer than others and it is a process that cannot be rushed. So do not be concerned if some of or primates are still in the enclosures after several months.
With their incredible ‘coronal tufts’, the sakis are sure to outdo the Capuchins when it comes to weird hairstyles, and together with their big beards, they do look very strange. There is nothing strange about their temperament however and Bearded Sakis are very gentle monkeys.
As specialised seed eaters, these Sakis have large canines and strong jaw muscles to break open the tough outer cases of unripe fruits and nuts. Their incisors are also very long and protrude forwards to enable them to scrape out the juicy interior. The Bearded Saki diet consists of fruits, but they also eat nuts, buds, leaves, insects and small vertebrates. They also enjoy eating soil which is a valuable source of nutrients.
Once a year (usually in early autumn or late summer) the female bears a single offspring after a 5 month gestation. After about three months it begins to explore its environment independently and on it is briefly cured. Bearded sakis reach full maturity at 4 years of age. Their life expectancy is approximately 15 years.
Bearded sakis are highly sensitive to hunting and habitat destruction. Consequently, three of the four species recognized by IUCN (they do not recognize C. israelita) are considered threatened, ranging from Endangered for C. albinasus and C. utahickae, to Critically Endangered for C. satanas.
Did you know? Sakis do not have opposable thumbs and so they eat by holding their food between their index and middle fingers!
BLACK AND WHITE RUFFED LEMURS
Latin name: Varecia variegata variegata
The black-and-white ruffed lemur is the more endangered of the two species of ruffed lemurs, both of which are endemic to the island of Madagascar. Despite having a larger range than the red ruffed lemur, it has a much smaller population that is spread out, living in lower population densities and reproductively isolated. It also has less coverage and protection in large national parks than the red ruffed lemur. Three subspecies of black-and-white ruffed lemur have been recognized since the red ruffed lemur was elevated to species status in 2001.
The black-and-white ruffed lemur is one of two species within the genus Varecia, and has three subspecies. Of the three subspecies, the white-belted black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata subcincta) is found furthest to the north, the southern black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata editorum) is found furthest to the south, and the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata variegata) has a geographic range between the other two subspecies.
Together with the red ruffed lemur, they are the largest extant members of the family Lemuridae, ranging in length from 100 to 120 cm (3.3 to 3.9 ft) and weighing between 3.1 and 4.1 kg (6.8 and 9.0 lb). They are arboreal, spending most of their time in the high canopy of the seasonal rainforests on the eastern side of the island.
Favouring the primary rainforests in Madagascar, Black-and-white ruffed lemur’s are one of the most endangered lemurs as these forests are disappearing fast, making way for agriculture and cattle grazing. They are also diurnal, active exclusively in daylight hours. Quadrupedal locomotion is preferred in the trees and on the ground, and suspensory behaviour is seen during feeding. As the most frugivorous of lemurs, the diet consists mainly of fruit, although nectar and flowers are also favoured, followed by leaves and some seeds.
Black-and-white ruffed lemurs tend to spread out in the forest whilst foraging and so every now and again, one will give a call to see where the rest are, and they all reply in unison. That raucous barking you may hear whilst walking through the Monkeyland forest is not a pack of bloodthirsty dogs, but our black and white ruffed lemurs merely saying hello! Black-and-white ruffed lemurs are in fact the second loudest primate, second only to the howler monkey. Not only are they loud, but they are one of the largest lemurs and are unique in some very special ways.
It is unusual in that it exhibits several reproductive traits typically found in small, nocturnal lemurs, such as short a gestation period, large litters and rapid maturation. Along with the red ruffed lemur, they are the only primates to build nests.
Female black-and-white ruffed lemur’s are the only primate to not only have six teats compared to the usual two or four but are able to have multiple births, anything up to six! Normally though she will give birth to two or three. Unlike other primates who will carry their young on their backs or under their bellies, this Mum builds a nest high up the trees. If she wants to move them to a new nest she will pick them up in her mouth, just like a dog does. Infant mortality is high, falling out of the nest or being taken by predators, and so the infants grow up really quickly reaching most of their adult weight by the time they are just four months old.
At Monkeyland we have more than 25 Black-and-white ruffed lemur, which includes Mozzie, Stinky and Tiger who live in the Special Monkey Forest.
Did you know? Black and White Ruffed Lemurs eat more fruit than any other Lemur! There are over 70 different species of Lemur and they can only be found in the wild on the island of Madagascar.
Latin name: Lemur catta
The species name, catta, refers to the Ringtailed lemur's cat-like appearance. Its purring vocalization is very similar to that of the domestic cat. The ring-tailed lemur is known in Madagascar as the hira - pronounced ˈhirə’ or colloquially [ˈir]) or maky (pronounced [ˈmakʲi̥], and spelled maki in French). Being the most widely recognized endemic primate on the island, it has been selected as the symbol for Madagascar National Parks (formerly known as ANGAP). The Maki clothing brand, which started by selling T-shirts in Madagascar and now sells clothing across the Indian Ocean islands, is named after the this lemur due to its popularity, despite the fact that the company's logo portrays the face of a Sifaka and its name uses the French spelling.
The Ringtailed lemur is a large strepsirrhine primate and the most recognised lemur due to its long, black and white ringed tail. It belongs to Lemuridae, one of five lemur families. It is the only member of the Lemur genus. Like all lemurs it is endemic to the island of Madagascar. Known locally in Malagasy as hira or maky (spelled maki in French), it inhabits gallery forests to spiny scrub in the southern regions of the island. It is omnivorous and the most terrestrial of lemurs. Ringtails are diurnal, being active exclusively in daylight hours.
The Ringtailed lemur is highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals. It is also female dominant, a trait common among lemurs. To keep warm and reaffirm social bonds, groups will huddle together forming a lemur ball. A group of huddled ring-tailed lemurs is referred to as a lemur ball. The Ringtailed lemur will also sunbathe, sitting upright facing its underside, with its thinner white fur towards the sun.
At Monkeyland you will often see Ringtailed lemurs sunning themselves, this helps to regulate their body temperature.
Ringtailed lemurs get their name from their distinctive black and white striped tails which they hold up high whilst walking on the ground. These tails also have a more novel use in what is known as a ‘stink fight’. Male ringtails have scent glands on their chest and wrists. They bring their tails up between their legs, rub it over these glands making sure it is good and smelly, then raise it over their head and flick it at their opponent who will either reciprocate or simply run off. Males also distribute their scent by ‘spur marking’, they have a sharp nail on the scent gland on their wrists called a ‘spur’ which they use to make a cut in a tree and deposit their scent. Females do not have these chest or wrist glands and so stand upside down to deposit scent from their anal region. Scent marking can convey a wide range of information to other Ringtails and throughout our forest you may find small trees or branches with a multitude of cuts, a sort of ringtail ‘message post’.
Unlike monkeys, lemurs groom by licking each other and using their ‘toothcomb’, a specialised set of teeth in their lower jaw which protrude forward and act as a ‘comb’ to get rid of knots and tangles in their fur.
As one of the most vocal primates, the ring-tailed lemur utilizes numerous vocalizations including group cohesion and alarm calls. Experiments have shown that the ring-tailed lemur, despite the lack of a large brain (relative to simiiform primates), can organize sequences, understand basic arithmetic operations and preferentially select tools based on functional qualities.
Unlike most diurnal primates, but like all strepsirhine primates, the Ringtailed lemur has a tapetum lucidum, or reflective layer behind the retina of the eye, that enhances night vision. The tapetum is highly visible in this species because the pigmentation of the ocular fundus (back surface of the eye), which is present in - but varies between - all lemurs, is very spotty. The Ringtailed lemur also has a rudimentary foveal depression on the retina. Another shared characteristic with the other strepsirrhine primates is the rhinarium), a moist, naked, glandular nose supported by the upper jaw and protruding beyond the chin. The rhinarium continues down where it divides the upper lip. The upper lip is attached to the premaxilla, preventing the lip from protruding and thus requiring the lemur to lap water rather than using suction. The skin of the ring-tailed lemur is dark grey or black in colour, even in places where the fur is white. It is exposed on the nose, palms, soles, eyelids, lips, and genitalia. The skin is smooth, but the leathery texture of the hands and feet facilitate terrestrial movement.
Despite being listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List and suffering from habitat destruction, the Ringtailed lemur reproduces readily in captivity and is the most populous lemur in zoos worldwide, numbering more than 2000 individuals. They typically live up to 19 years in the wild and 27 years in captivity.
Three factors threaten ring-tailed lemurs. First and foremost is habitat destruction. Starting nearly 2,000 years ago with the introduction of humans to the island, forests have been cleared to produce pasture and agricultural land. Extraction of hardwoods for fuel and lumber, as well mining and overgrazing, have also taken their toll. Today, it is estimated that 90% of Madagascar's original forest cover has been lost. Rising populations have created even greater demand in the southwest portion of the island for fuel wood, charcoal, and lumber. Fires from the clearing of grasslands, as well as slash-and-burn agriculture destroy forests. Another threat to the species is harvesting either for food (bush meat) or pets. Finally, periodic drought common to southern Madagascar can impact populations already in decline. In 1991 and 1992, for example, a severe drought caused an abnormally high mortality rate among infants and females at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve. Two years later, the population had declined by 31% and took nearly four years to start to recover.
The Ringtail lemur is the national animal of Madagascar; Ringtails achieved worldwide fame after the release of the film ‘Madagascar’. Unfortunately the film depicted their ruler as a male, ‘King Julian’ whereas in real life, as with most other lemurs, females are always the boss! We have more than 50 Ringtail lemurs at Monkeyland. Many of which came to live with us from Skansen Akvariet in Sweden. There are also a few Ringtails who live at the Special Monkey Forest; these are: Perfect, Uno, Surprise, Pacer, Bones, Blondie, Bimbo and Betty.
Did you know? Ringtailed lemur’s tails are made up of 13 black rings and 13 white rings, always ending with a black ring!
BLACK HOWLER MONKEY
Latin name: Alouatta caraya
The Black Howler Monkey is a species of howler monkey, a large New World monkey, from northeastern Argentina, eastern Bolivia, eastern and southern Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela. Together with the brown howler, it is the southernmost member of the Alouatta genus. Only the adult male is black; adult females and juveniles of both genders are overall whitish to yellowish-buff. However, variations occur even among the adult males; some have patches of reddish-brown or buff fur.
They live in groups of three to 19 individuals (usually 7 to 9). The sex ratio is usually one to three males for every seven to nine females in a group. When mating, males and females within a single group pair off.
Named for their vocalizations, they may be heard most often around sunrise. This "dawn chorus" sounds much more like roaring than howling, and it announces the howlers' position as a means to avoiding conflict with other groups. The call can be heard up to 5 km away.
These monkeys commonly sleep or rest up to 70% of the day, making it one of the least active monkeys in the New World. Their habitat is forest, especially semideciduous and gallery. Black howlers are folivorous, eating mostly leaves and occasionally fruit, such as figs. They generally prefer walking and climbing to running or leaping. The prehensile tail is very strong and acts as a fifth limb, allowing the monkeys greater versatility when climbing and allowing them greater safety in the occasional fall from a high branch. Because their limb structure makes terrestrial movement awkward, they spend most of their time in the trees and only come down for water during dry spells. Otherwise, the monkeys drink by wetting their hands on moist leaves, and then licking the water off their hands. Their lifespans are up to 20 years, but more commonly 15 years in the wild.
Did you know? Howler monkeys are so lazy that they only travel up to 700m a day!
BOLIVIAN SQUIRREL MONKEYS
Latin name: Saimiri Boliviensis
Squirrel monkeys are New World monkeys of the genus Saimiri; and they are the only genus in the subfamily Saimirinae. The name of the genus Saimiri is of Tupi origin (sai meaning 'monkey' and mirim meaning 'small').
Until 1984, all South American Squirrel monkeys were generally considered part of a single widespread species, and many zoologists considered the Squirrel Monkey to be a member of that single species as well. The two main groups currently recognized can be separated by the white above the eyes; it being shaped as a Gothic ("pointed") Arch in the S. sciureus group, while it is shaped as a Roman ("rounded") Arch in the S. boliviensis group. Squirrel monkeys live in the tropical forests of Central and South America in the canopy layer. Most species have parapatric or allopatric ranges in the Amazon, while S. oerstedii is found disjunctly in Costa Rica and Panama. Squirrel monkey have short and dense fur, coloured olive at the shoulders and yellowish orange on its back and extremities. Their throat and the ears are white and their mouths are black. The upper part of their head is hairy. This black-and-white face gives them the name "death's head monkey" in several Germanic languages (e.g. German Totenkopfaffen, Swedish dödskalleapor, and Dutch doodshoofdaapjes) and Slovenian (Smrtoglavka). Squirrel monkeys grow to 25 to 35 cm, plus a 35 to 42 cm tail. Male squirrel monkeys weigh 750 to 1100 g. Females weigh 500 to 750 g.
Female Squirrel Monkeys have a pseudo-penis that they use to display dominance over smaller monkeys, in much the same way the male Squirrel Monkeys display their dominance. Like most of their New World monkey relatives, squirrel monkeys are diurnal and arboreal. Unlike the other New World monkeys, their tail is not used for climbing, but as a kind of "balancing pole" and also as a tool. Their movements in the branches can be very rapid. They live together in multi-male/multi-female groups with up to 500 members. These large groups can, however occasionally break into smaller troops. They have a number of vocal calls, including warning sounds to protect themselves from large falcons, which are a natural threat to them. Their small body size also makes them susceptible to predators such as snakes and felids. For marking territory, Squirrel monkeys rub their tail and their skin with their own urine.
Squirrel monkeys are omnivores, eating primarily fruits and insects. Occasionally they also eat seeds, leaves, flowers, buds, nuts, eggs and small vertebrates.
The mating of the squirrel monkeys is subject to seasonal influences. Females give birth to young during the rainy season, after a 150- to 170-day gestation. The mothers exclusively care for the young. Saimiri oerstedti are weaned by 4 months of age, while S. boliviensis are not fully weaned until 18 months old. Female squirrel monkeys reach sexual maturity at age 3 years, while males take until age 5. They live to about 15 years old in the wild, and over 20 years in captivity. Menopause in females probably occurs in the mid-teens. Unfortunately the Common Squirrel Monkey S. sciureus is captured for the pet trade and for medical research. Two squirrel monkey species are threatened: S. oerstedti and S. vanzolinii are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN
Squirrel monkeys are the smallest species in the Monkeyland forest travelling in groups of up to 75 individuals. In total we have more than 130 Squirrel Monkeys at Monkeyland. We definitely have the largest free-roaming group in Africa. You will usually find our Squirrel Monkeys foraging with Capuchin monkeys, taking advantage of their enormous strength to gain access to their favourite foods. In their natural habitat they also benefit from the added protection against predators.
Squirrel monkeys have a wide repertoire of up to 25 vocalisations including chucks, cackles and twitters and can often be heard squabbling over food or resting spots.
During the mating season the males make a dramatic body weight increase, gaining up to 22% of their body weight, this is mostly water retention and is purely to attract the females who prefer their men to be on the large side!
They spend as little as 10% of their day resting and on cold or rainy days you may see some of them snuggling up to our Spectacled Langur, Lar Gibbon or Howlers to keep warm
Did you know? Squirrel monkeys have very large brains, proportionately the largest of all primates. This however does not make them the cleverest!! Squirrel monkeys may seem cute and cuddly but… suffering with ‘small monkey syndrome’ they are probably the most aggressive at Monkeyland!
COMMON SQUIRREL MONKEYS
Latin name: Saimiri sciureus
The Common Squirrel Monkey is a small New World primate from the Cebidae (squirrel monkey) family, and native to the tropical areas of South America. The Common Squirrel Monkey can be found primarily in the Amazon Basin, including territories in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Paraguay and Venezuela; a small population has been introduced to Southern Florida and many of the Caribbean Islands. A group of free-ranging individuals was spotted and photographed in 2009 at the Tijuca Forest in Rio de Janeiro - possibly the result of an illegal release or of an escape from the pet trade.
The Common Squirrel Monkey prefers to live in the middle canopy, but will occasionally come to the ground or go up into the high canopy. They like vegetation which provides good cover from birds of prey in the rainforest, savannah, mangroves, or marshlands.
We only have 2 Common Squirrel Monkeys. Charlie and James. Both boys have been neutered because we do not want them to mate our Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys. Charlie and James were released into The Special Monkey Home, and although James still happily resides there Charlie has moved into the Monkeyland forest and he has befriended the Bolivian clan.
Did you know? The Common Squirrel Monkey is rated as "least concern" by IUCN from a conservation perspective. However, the common squirrel monkey is among many rainforest animals whose status may be harmed by deforestation. Unfortunately they are also captured from the wild extensively for the pet trade and for medical research.
Latin name: Papio ursinus ursinus
The Chacma baboon, also known as the Cape baboon, is, like all other baboons, from the Old World monkey family. With a body length of up to 115 cm and a weight from 15 to 31 kg, it is among the largest and heaviest baboon species. The Chacma is generally dark brown to grey in colour, with a patch of rough hair on the nape of its neck. Unlike the northern baboon species (the Guinea, Hamadryas, and Olive baboons), Chacma males do not have a mane. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this baboon is its long, downward sloping face. Males can have canine teeth as long as 2 inches (longer than a lion's canine teeth). Baboons are sexually dimorphic, males being considerably larger than females.
Although the Baboons do not live in the Monkeyland forest with all the other primates, Chacma baboons can be seen in the protected area around Monkeyland and so it seems fit that they should be included here. Baboons have been living in Africa much longer than humans but still they are persecuted and killed. Human encroachment into their natural habitat forces them into our towns and cities and thus they are considered a nuisance. The Chacma baboon is now considered to be potentially threatened but they are only protected in the Cape Peninsula.
Among the largest of baboon species, the Chacma baboon can weigh up to 31kg and the male’s massive canines can reach 5cm which is longer than a lions! Being sexually dimorphic, the females are significantly smaller than the males. Chacmas usually live in social groups composed of multiple adult males, adult females, and their offspring. Occasionally, however, very small groups form that include only a single adult male and several adult females. Chacma troops are characterized by a dominance hierarchy. Female ranking within the troop is inherited through the mother and remains quite fixed, while male ranking is often in flux, especially when the dominant male is replaced.
Chacmas are unusual among baboons in that neither males nor females form strong relationships with members of the same sex. Instead, the strongest social bonds are often between unrelated adult males and females. Infanticide is also common compared to other baboons species, as newly dominant males will often attempt to kill young baboons sired by the previously dominant male. Baboon troops possess complex group behaviour and communicate by means of body attitudes, facial expressions, vocalisations and touch.
Chacmas inhabit a wide array of habitats, from the grassy alpine slopes of the Drakensberg to the Kalahari desert. The Chacma baboon is omnivorous with a preference for fruits, while also eating insects, seeds, grass and smaller vertebrate animals. The Chacma baboon is generally a scavenger when it comes to game meat and rarely engages in hunting large animals. There has been one incident where a Chacma baboon has killed a human infant, however the event is so rare the locals believed it was due to witchcraft. Normally Chacma baboons will flee at the approach of humans. This has been changing due to the easy availability of food where there is interaction with humans. Baboons are scavengers and clever opportunists who will never miss the chance for an easy meal and so will eat virtually anything.
The Chacma baboon is widespread and does not rank among threatened animal species. However, in some confined locations such as South Africa's Southern Cape Peninsula, local populations are dwindling due to extreme habitat loss, as well as predation from other protected species, such as leopards and lions. Some troops have become a suburban menace, overturning trash cans and entering houses in their desperate search for food. Because they often live near human habitats, baboons are shot, poisoned, electrocuted, run over and captured for the pet industry, research laboratories and muthi (medicine).
As with any wild animal, baboons can be aggressive and dangerous, and unfortunately such negative encounters have resulted in frustrated local residents resorting to hunting them. It is thought that this isolated Chacma baboon population will face extinction within 10 years. The Chacma is considered to be potentially threatened under C.I.T.E.S Appendix 2, if populations are not monitored. The only area in South Africa where they are monitored is in the Cape Peninsula where they are protected.
The Baboons around Monkeyland will generally flee at the approach of humans which is how it should be. We take particular care to ensure that they do not see us as a food source as that could create big problems. We ask then that you help us by ensuring that all your rubbish is placed in the bins provided and keep all food items out of their sight. Our baboons are used to a natural diet, not cheese sandwiches and cola!
Did you know? Baboons spend most of their time on the ground, climbing trees only to feed or sleep!
Latin name: Semnopithecus entellus
Hanuman Langurs are also known as Grey Langurs. They belong to a group of Old World monkeys constituting the entirety of the genus Semnopithecus.
Hanuman Langurs are large and fairly terrestrial; inhabiting forest, open lightly wooded habitats, and urban areas on the Indian subcontinent. Most species are found at low to moderate altitudes, but the Nepal Langur and Kashmir Langur occur up to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) in the Himalayas. Hanuman Langurs are largely grey (some more yellowish), with a black face and ears. Externally, the various species mainly differ in the darkness of the hands and feet, the overall colour and the presence or absence of a crest.[ There are also significant variations in the size depending on the species, but the head-and-body length of males is typically up to 75 cm (30 in) and that of females is 65 cm (26 in). Their tails are always longer than their bodies. Interestingly, the Langurs from the southern part of their range are smaller than those from the north.
Langurs mostly walk quadrupedally and spend half their time on and the ground and the other half in the trees. They will also make bipedal hops, climbing and descending supports with the body upright, and leaps. Along with the Bearded Sakis, the Hanuman Langurs are the latest arrivals into the Monkeyland forest. The adult female we have named Jaipur and her son, Gandhi.
As India’s most widespread Langur, the Hanuman is protected by law and believed to be sacred, even being worshipped in some areas. The name ‘Hanuman’ refers to the Hindu deity Hanuman, the monkey-god and ‘entellus’ in Hindi means ‘sacred’. Unfortunately not all religions respect their protection and some use various Langur body parts as amulets, which are believed to give the wearer positive effects.
Hanuman Langurs are generally non-aggressive monkeys and live mostly harmoniously amongst the people of India, even in bustling cities such as Jodhpur which has over a million people. In India, Langurs number at around 300,000. India has actual laws prohibiting the capturing or killing of Langurs. The enforcement of these laws has proven to be difficult though and it seems most people don’t even know that they are protected. The natural habitat of the Langur specie is threatened by encroachment and plantation and slash-and-burn agriculture. Other threats include open cast mining, fire damage, grazing, ground litter removal, and non-timber forest products, including wood for fuel, fodder, fruits, gums, seeds, and medicinal plants.
Langurs can also often be found near roads and can become victims of automobile accidents. This happens even in protected areas, with deaths by automobile collisions making nearly a quarter of mortality in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan, India. Langurs are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and are sometimes kept for religious purposes by Hindu priests; however, some groups of different religions will hunt Langurs for medical purposes, and parts of Hanuman Langurs are sometimes kept as amulets and seen as having positive effects for the bearer.
Because Langurs are considered sacred and their less aggressive behaviour compared to other primates, Langurs are generally not considered pests in many parts of India. Nevertheless, attitudes have somewhat changed partly due to secularization. Langurs will raid crops and steal food from houses, and this causes people to persecute them. People will feed them in temples, but treat the ones they find at home as a nuisance. Langurs stealing and biting people to get food in urban areas also contribute to more persecutions.
Hanuman Langurs are a talkative lot and around 19 different vocalisations have been recorded. These start with a loud ‘whooping’ call when they arise from their sleeping trees in the morning. Other vocalisations include a variety of coughs, barks, grunts, screams, honks, rumbles and even hiccups. Their diet consists of mostly leaves and fruit and, like Calik our Spectacled Langur, they have a specialised stomach which helps digest the high amounts of cellulose in their diet.
Did you know? In Hindu mythology, Hanuman, the monkey-god rescued Lord Rama’s wife, Sita from the evil demon King Ravana. He set fire to the King’s village, Lanka and in the process of the rescue his hands and face were burnt. The fabulous fable: In India the Hanuman Langur is held in sacred esteem due to its fabled association with the Hindu monkey god, Hanuman. The story of the monkey god tells of how Sita, the wife of the man-god-king Rama, is kidnapped by the giant demon king Ravana. Rama and his brother Laksmana are in the fight of their lives against the evil Rawana, who has taken Sita to his stronghold in the city of Lanka. Rama is seriously wounded, and his brother seems to be dead. To only thing which could save Rama and Laksmana is the four medical plants that grow 3,000 km away in the high Himalayan mountains. Rama’s adviser Jambavan (who is a bear) enlists the help of the monkey king Sugriva and his faithful flying general, Humanuman (the son of the wind), to fetch the life-saving plants.Taking off from what is now Sri Lanka, Hanuman soars to the medicine-plant mountain in northern India. When he gets there he cannot decide which are the mirracle plants. Frustrated, he rips out the entire mountain and carries it back to the evil empire of Rawana, in the city of Lanka. Here the mere smell of the plants cured Rama and his brother. Humanuman marches at the head of his monkey troops and lays siege to Lanka, setting fire to it and thereby enabling king Rama to win the battle. Then he rescues Sita. In the process of rescuing Sita, Hanuman suffers burns to his face and hands. According to the legend, this is why this monkey has a black face and black hands today. But the story is not yet complete; Hanuman’s job is not over. He is no litterbug, so he flies back to the Himalayan Mountains to replace the mountain in its original spot.This proved to be difficult though, and Hanuman accidently mishandles the holy mountain. It is not easy to fly across a continent, with a mountain on your shoulder, without bits of earth falling off. Where the clumps of earth landed the legend says sacred groves and holy forests appeared. Today there remains remnant patches of rainforest in some of India’s most populated areas. These sacred groves are the only source of herbal medicine to them. The Ramayana legend is a legendary story often told in India, and every Tuesday in the towns and villages throughout the country, people feed the monkeys.
Latin name: Trachypithecus obscurus
The spectacled Langur is also known as the Dusky Leaf Monkey or Spectacled Leaf Monkey. They belong to the Cercopithecidae family and are found in Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
As one of the many leaf eating (folivorous) monkey species, the Spectacled Langur gets his name from the white rings around his eyes which make him look like he is wearing glasses (spectacles).
Langurs have a rather slim build with a long tail. The fur colouring varies depending upon species from black and grey to orange yellow. Many species have skin designs and a brighter lower surface, the hair on the head is often compared to a hood. Their arms are very short in comparison to the feet and their thumbs are also somewhat shorter. The inner surfaces of the hands and feet are hairless so that their fur doesn't get caught when reaching into branches. These animals reach a length of 40 to 80 cm and a weight of 5 to 15 kg, with males generally larger than females. Langurs live in the forests, often preferring rain forests although occasionally they are also found in secluded mountain forests. They spend the largest part of the day in the trees, where they crawl along the branches on all fours, although they can also jump well from tree to tree. They are diurnal, although more active in the early mornings and the afternoon.
They live in groups of 5 to 20 animals, mostly in harems, i.e. a single male with several females. Young males must leave their birth group when fully mature, often forming bachelor groups. If a new male takes over a harem, defeating and scaring off the harem leader, it often kills the children of the group. Langurs are territorial, with loud shouting to defend their territory from other Langur interlopers, resorting to force if the outsiders aren't scared off. They have a common repertoire of sounds with which they warn group members. Also, mutual grooming plays an important role.
Langurs have a penchant for eating tough leaves and unripe fruit and so have specialised teeth to chew and enlarged salivary glands to break down the cellulose in the leaves. They have further developed a specialised digestive system to deal with the high amounts of strychnine in their diet. In order to digest the hard leaves, they developed a multi-chambered stomach. Like the howler monkeys who are also folivorous, Langurs spend a lot of time resting as they obtain very little energy from their food and it takes a long time to digest. You will therefore often see our only Spectacled Langur Calik, sitting in his classic pose with feet and hands crossed on a branch, surveying the antics of the other monkeys around him.
Even though they come from opposite sides of the globe, Calik has made good friends with some of our squirrel monkeys who particularly like to sit next to him when it is cold or raining in order to keep warm. When it comes to the rest of the primates at Monkeyland though, Calik definitely rates himself as ‘King of the Jungle’!
Did you know? As Langurs spend a lot of time sitting, they have a hard calloused pad on their bottom. This pad is actually attached to their pelvic bone and gives them something comfortable to sit on.
WHITE-HANDED or LAR GIBBON
Latin name: Hylobates lar
The Lar Gibbon is also known as the white-handed gibbon. This primate belongs to the Hylobatidae or gibbon family. It is one of the better-known species of gibbons and is often seen in zoos.
The range of the Lar Gibbon historically extended from southwest China to Thailand and Burma down the whole Malay Peninsula in primary and secondary tropical rain forests. It is also present in the northwest portion of the island of Sumatra. In recent decades, especially the continental range has been reduced and fragmented, and the animals are thought to be extirpated in China. The gibbon genus is highly allopatric, usually separated by large rivers. The Lar gibbon shares its range with only the Siamang, Symphalanges syndactylus, on the tip of the Malaysian peninsula and Sumatra.
The fur colouring of the Lar gibbon varies from black and dark-brown to light brown sandy colours. The hands and feet are white coloured; likewise a ring of white hair surrounds the black face. Both males and females can be all colour variants, and the sexes also hardly differ in size. Gibbons are true brachiators, propelling themselves through the forest by swinging under the branches by their arms. Reflecting this mode of locomotion, the white-handed gibbon has curved fingers, elongated hands, extremely long arms and relatively short legs, giving it an intermembral index of 129.7, one of the highest of the primates. As with all apes, the number of caudal vertebrae has been reduced drastically, resulting in the loss of a functional tail. Gibbons have tough bony padding on their buttocks, known as the ischial callosities, or sitting pads.
The Lar gibbon is considered frugivorous with fruit constituting 50% of its diet, but leaves (29%) are a substantial part, with insects (13%) and flowers (9%) forming the remainder. Lar gibbons are diurnal and arboreal, inhabiting rain forests. They rarely come to the ground, instead using their long arms to brachiate through the trees. With their hooked hands they can move swiftly with great momentum, swinging from the branches. Although they rarely come to the ground naturally, when on the ground they walk bipedally with arms raised above the heads for balance.
Their social organisation is dominated by monogamous family pairs, with one breeding male and one female along with their offspring. When a juvenile reaches sexual maturity, it is expelled from the family unit. However, this traditional conception has come under scrutiny. Long-term studies conducted in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand suggest that their mating system is somewhat flexible, incorporating extra-pair copulations, partner changes and polyandrous groupings.
Gestation is seven months long and pregnancies are usually of a single young. Young are nursed for approximately two years, and full maturity comes at about 8 years. The life expectancy of the Lar gibbons in the wild is about 25 years. Family groups inhabit a firm territory, which they protect by warding off other gibbons with their calls. Each morning the family gathers on the edge of its territory and begins a "great call," a duet between the breeding pair. Each species has a typified call and each breeding pair has unique variations on that theme. The great call of Hylobates lar is characterized by its frequent use of short hoots with more complex hoots, along with a "quavering" opening and closing. These calls are one of the traits used determining species differences among the gibbons.
The song of the male Gibbon starts early each morning as the day begins. It rings out from the very top of a tall tree and serves to proclaim his position as king of his territory. Before long, he is joined in chorus by his female companion, emphasizing her position as his mate. Together, their song rises in intensity, until the female takes over to bring the duet to a deafening crescendo. Their presence thus established, together with their offspring, who may also have joined in the song, the pair will begin their daily journey around their home forest in a seemingly endless quest for ripe fruit. Gibbons will eat leaves, buds and flowers for extra protein. All of the nine species of Gibbon indulge in singing of this type, although not all necessarily in duets of paired males and females.
Lar gibbons are threatened in various ways: they are sometimes hunted for their meat, sometimes a parent is killed in order to capture young animals for pets and the largest danger is the loss of habitat. Atlas, the only species of ape free-roaming at Monkeyland, has no tail. This is a feature almost unique to apes. The only monkey without a tail is the Barbary Macaque. Gibbons travel through the forest by brachiation which means that they suspend themselves below the branches using their long arms and strong shoulder muscles and thereby swing beneath the branches rather than walking on top like monkeys do. By making a mental map of the forest, planning each grip several steps in advance, Gibbons can reach incredible speeds and leap as far as 10 metres in one go. You have to be pretty quick to see Atlas when he is in full swing!
If you are really lucky you may hear the beautiful song Gibbons make. Their way of communicating is by ‘singing’ to each other. Sitting high in the treetops Gibbons make a series of calls which ascend to a deafening soprano. It is believed these ‘songs’ serve to mark their territory and strengthen bonds. Gibbons are also able to walk on the ground and Atlas can often be found playing with capuchin and squirrel monkeys on the forest.
We care for 2 other Lar Gibbons at Monkeyland. A male named Kecubung and a female named Bruni. Both came to live here in their teens, but unfortunately both are aggressive due to the manner in which they were reared. The pair hates humans. Unfortunately Kecubung and Bruni cannot free roam Monkeyland with the other primates, but we have encapsulated a section of forest especially for them where they live in a semi free environment. It is just free of those pestering nasty humans.
Did you know? Lar gibbons fur can be beige, red, brown or black but their hands and faces will always be white!! Gibbons can brachiate at speeds of up to 30km per hour!
DOUROUCOULIS or OWL MONKEY
Latin name: Aotus trivirgatus
Douroucoulis are also known as the owl monkeys or night monkeys. They are members of the genus Aotus of New World monkeys (monotypic in family Aotidae). They are widely distributed in the forests of Central and South America, from Panama south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species that live at higher elevations tend to have thicker fur than the monkeys at sea level. The genus name means "earless"; they have ears, of course, but the external ears are tiny and hard to see.
Douroucoulis have big brown eyes and therefore have increased ability to be active at night. They are called night monkeys because all species are active at night and are in fact the only truly nocturnal monkeys (an exception is the subspecies Aotus azarae azarae, which is cathemeral). Both male and female Night Monkeys weigh almost the same amount.
Douroucoulis make a notably wide variety of vocal sounds, with up to eight categories of distinct calls (gruff grunts, resonant grunts, screams, low trills, moans, gulps, sneeze grunts and hoots), and a frequency range of 190-1,950 Hz.
Unusual among the New World monkeys, they are monochromats, that is, they have no colour vision, presumably because it is of no advantage given their nocturnal habits. They have a better spatial resolution at low light levels than other primates which contributes to their ability to capture insects and move at night.
All Douroucoulis form pair bonds, and live in family groups of the mated pair with their immature offspring. Family groups defend territories by vocal calls and scent marking. Only one infant is born each year. The male is the primary caregiver and the mother only breastfeeds the infant and carries the baby for the first week or so of its life.
Douroucoulis constitute one of the few monkey species that are affected by the often deadly human malaria protozoan Plasmodium falciparum. Unfortunately this makes them useful as non-human primate experimental models in malaria research, and to date they are often captured for medical research purposes.
Douroucoulis are the only truly nocturnal monkey and due to their night time activities they are unable to live in Birds of Eden as they disturb the roosting birds. Being very gentle creatures they are also not suited to living in the main forest with the boisterous capuchins and so they live in a cage in the forest instead. We only have 2 Douroucoulis, Wobble and his daughter Luna. Luna’s mom tragically died when she was little, and therefore Luna was hand-reared.
GEOFFROY'S SPIDER MONKEY
Latin name: Ateles geoffroyi
Geoffroy's spider monkey is also known as Black-handed Spider Monkey. They are New World monkeys, from Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies. The species name geoffroyi is in honour of French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. The Spider Monkey is one of the largest New World monkeys, often weighing as much as 9 kilograms. Their arms are significantly longer than their legs, and they have a prehensile tail which can support their entire weight and which is used as an extra limb. Their hands have only a vestigial thumb, but long, strong hook-like fingers. These adaptations (long arms and hook-like hands) allow the monkey to brachiate, that is, swing by its arms beneath the tree branches.
The Geoffroy's spider monkey measures between 30 and 63 cm (12 and 25 in) and it weighs between 6 and 9 kg (13 and 20 lb). The tail is longer than the body at between 63 and 85 cm (25 and 33 in). Males are slightly larger than females. The prehensile tail is very strong and has a palm-like pad at the end. The tail acts as an extra limb, and is used for locomotion as well as to pick fruits and to scoop water from holes in trees. Geoffroy's spider monkey can support its weight suspended by its tail and often does so when feeding. The prehensile tail can be useful when feeding. Geoffroy's spider monkey eats mostly fruit – preferably ripe and fleshy – and spends 70% to 80% of its feeding time eating fruit. Leaves make up most of the rest of its diet. Young leaves are especially important to provide protein that can be lacking in fruit. Other elements of its diet include flowers, bark, insects, honey, seeds and buds.
In addition to providing much of the monkey's nutritional needs, fruit and leaves provide much of its water requirements. Like other spider monkeys, Geoffroy's spider monkey drinks water from tree holes and bromeliads in trees but unlike other spider monkeys, it also drinks from terrestrial water sources.
The clitoris of female Geoffroy's spider monkeys is large and protrudes, looking like a penis. This organ, called a pendulous clitoris because of the way it dangles externally, is actually larger than the male flaccid penis. As a result, females are sometimes mistaken for males by human observers. The enlarged clitoris is believed to aid males in determining sexual receptiveness, allowing them to touch the clitoris and smell their fingers to pick up chemical or olfactory cues to the female's reproductive status.
Female Geoffroy's spider monkeys bear young every two to four years. Among males, mating is not restricted to only dominant individuals. In one study at Barro Colorado Island, all males in the group were observed mating at least once over a one year period. However, it appears that dominant males mate more often than low ranking males. It is unknown whether male dominance is correlated with greater success in fathering offspring.
Geoffroy's spider monkeys mate in a sitting position, both facing the same direction, with the male seated behind the female and his arms wrapped around her chest and legs wrapped around her waist. This embrace can last between 8 and 22 minutes. Prior to mating, the male and female both separate themselves from the rest of the group, so that they are alone except for any of the female's juvenile offspring. The gestational period is about 7.5 months, after which a single young is typically born, although twins sometimes occur.
The young are dark in colour until they begin taking on the adult coloration at the age of five months. They are carried on their mothers' chest for the first month and a half to two months, at which point they can ride on her back. They nurse until they are about one year old, but begin eating solid foods and moving independently at about three months.
Geoffroy's spider monkey uses several forms of non-vocal communication. A curled tail or arched back can be used as a threat display towards other spider monkeys. A head shake is used either as a threat or an invitation to play. Shaking branches or swaying arms is used as a warning of danger to the group.
Although they do not use tools, spider monkeys, including Geoffroy's spider monkey, are regarded as intelligent primates. A study performed in 2007 concluded that spider monkeys were the third most intelligent non-human primate, behind only orangutans and chimpanzees, and ahead of gorillas and all other monkeys. This mental capacity may be an adaptation to spider monkeys' frugivorous diets, which require them to be able to identify and memorize many different types of foods and their locations.
Geoffroy's spider monkey is listed as "Endangered" by the IUCN, mostly due to habitat loss. They require large tracts of primary forest to survive, and therefore they are vulnerable to deforestation and they are sometimes hunted by humans and captured for the pet trade. Because of their low reproductive turnover, they cannot quickly replenish their numbers when impacted by these events. As a result, Geoffroy's spider monkey has disappeared from some areas where it was once common.
One area where Geoffroy's spider monkey was eliminated was Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Hunting had eliminated the native population there by 1912. However, between 1959 and 1966 an effort was made to reintroduce the species to Barro Colorado. At least 18 monkeys were reintroduced but only five, one male and four females, survived the reintroduction. This small group has thrived, and the island population had grown to 28 monkeys by 2003.
We have 8 Geoffroy’s spider monkeys at Monkeyland. Four of them, a father (Leon) , mother (Lucy) and their 2 sons (Luke & Liam) live in the main forest. The other 4 live in the Special Monkey Home. Tarzan and Jane live there due to health reasons and old age. Prince Charming lives there because he is a nutcase, totally unable to adapt to life in the Monkeyland forest. And the beautiful blue-eyed Hoja, who is considered by many scientists a Geoffrey’s spider monkey, but recently has been considered another species, called Black-Headed Spider Monkey.
Latin name: Chlorocebus aethiops
Vervet monkeys are the only primates in our forest that are indigenous to South Africa. They enjoy the security of Monkeyland as well as in the surrounding protected forest. The vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), or simply vervet, is an Old World monkey of the family Cercopithecidae native to Africa. The term "vervet" is also used to refer to all the members of the genus Chlorocebus. The five distinct subspecies can be found mostly throughout Southern Africa, as well as some of the eastern countries. Vervets were transported to the islands of Barbados, Saint Kitts, and Nevis in conjunction with the African slave trade.
In addition to very interesting behavioral research on natural populations, vervet monkeys serve as a nonhuman primate model for understanding genetic and social behaviors of humans. They have been noted for having human-like characteristics, such as hypertension, anxiety, and social and dependent alcohol use. Vervets live in social groups ranging from 10–50 individuals, with males changing groups at the time of sexual maturity. The most significant studies done on vervet monkeys involve their communication and alarm calls, specifically in regard to kin and group recognition and particular predator sightings.
The vervet monkey has a black face with a white fringe of hair, while the overall hair color is mostly grizzled-grey. The adult male of all species has a pale blue scrotum and a red penis. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism; the males are larger in weight and body length. Adult males weigh between 3.9 and 8.0 kg (8.6 and 18 lb), averaging 5.5 kg (12 lb), and have a body length between 420 and 600 mm (17 and 24 in), averaging 490 mm (19 in) from the top of the head to the base of the tail. Adult females weigh between 3.4 and 5.3 kg (7.5 and 12 lb) and average 4.1 kg (9.0 lb), and measure between 300 and 495 mm (12 and 19.5 in), average 426 mm (16.8 in).
When males reach sexual maturity, they move to a neighboring group. Often, males will move with a brother or peer, presumably for protection against aggression by males and females of the resident grou