Meet the monkeys
Like humans, monkeys have different personalities and traits that make them unique from one another. Below you will find interesting facts about each species, and an introduction to each of the monkeys currently under our care.
Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata)
- The mantled howler monkey is found all across Central America, from Southern Mexico to Colombia.
- Howlers are a tenacious species; they can live in many types of forests, even highly fragmented ones and in areas near human activity (which is why forest conservation is very important for this species)
- Howler monkeys are best known for their loud calls, which can be heard over a mile away! While they sound ferocious, howler monkeys are vegetarians – they enjoy life in the forest canopy surrounded by tasty leaves and fruits to eat.
- Howler monkeys spend most of their day resting, either by sleeping or sitting very still. Their favorite activity is relaxing in the shade. They are some of the biggest monkeys in Central America, and among the most common.
- Howler monkeys in Panamá are threatened by habitat loss and disease Group size: They live in large groups with multiple males, females, and juveniles.
- Life expectancy:
Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedtii)
- Central American squirrel monkeys are curious, charismatic, and beautiful monkeys, found in the rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama.
- They rely on a communication system of squeaks and chirps to warn each other of predators – their small size makes them particularly vulnerable to attacks by snakes, jungle cats, and birds of prey. Squirrel monkeys also communicate with each other using scent, and habitually urinate on their hands and feet to mark their trails through the trees.
- Males and females are the same size and color, but in the months leading up to breeding season the males will gain up to 20% body mass in water and fat that they store between the skin and muscles to appear larger to potential female partners.
- Group size: Squirrel monkeys form large groups, sometimes in the hundreds of members, and travel in the forest canopy and understory searching for fruits and insects.
- Life expectancy:
White Faced Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus capucinus)
- Often regarded as the most intelligent of the New World primates.
- Use tools to break open tough nuts.
- Work together as a team to hunt small mammals.
- Have a complex communication system, and form strong, lifelong bonds with other group members.
- In the wild and in captivity, capuchin monkeys rub their bodies with strong smelling plants like citrus, garlic, and lavender, which act as natural mosquito repellents.
- They use their strong prehensile tails to grip branches and balance as they travel through the rainforest canopy and understory in search of food.
- Capuchins are an important part of jungle ecosystems because they act both as predators to small animals and disperse the seeds of fruits Group size: white-faced capuchins are found in large groups of 15-20 individuals in the rainforests of Central America.
- Life expectancy: they can live up to 20 years, but in captivity capuchins can live more than 40 years.
- Diet: Capuchins are highly omnivorous, eating fruits, leaves, insects, small reptiles and crabs.
Geoffroy's Tamarin (Sanguinus geoffroyi)
- Tamarins are small New World monkeys found across South America. Geoffroy’s tamarin is the northernmost species, native to Panama’s Darien region and Colombia.
- Tamarins are known for their wide variety of facial hair and markings, and their characteristic white mohawks (crest of hair on their heads).
- Tamarins typically spend their entire lives in the trees, coming to the ground only rarely.
- Tamarins love to hunt for fruits, insects, tree sap and gum. They are experts at clinging to trunks of trees with their sharp, claw like fingernails and strong legs, which they use to leap from trunk to trunk.
- In the forest, Tamarins my be an important prey species for birds of prey, so they are constantly watchful and can scatter at a moments notice.
- In Panama, tamarins are threatened by habitat loss and capture for the pet trade.
- Group size:Tamarins live in small groups of both males and females. Female Tamarins my give birth to twins, somewhat unusal for primates, and even more unusual, males provide more parental care than females!
- Life expectancy:
Kinkajou (Potos flavus)
- The only non primate resident of Urraca, the kinkajou, also known as the honey bear, is a nocturanal, arboreal, mammal in the same family as racoons and coatis.
- They are found all over the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, and their shy demeamor and nocturnal habits have led them to be the subject of many local stories and myths. In some communities they are known as the guardians of sleep for children.
- Kinkajou’s have a prehensile tail they use to grasp branches, and may never come to the ground. They can also turn their feet backwards for faster travel in any direction along thick tree branches.
- Fruit, nectar, honey, flowers, and insects are the favorite foods of the kinkajou, and because they eat both fruit and nectar, they can be both seed dispersers and pollinators!
- In captivity, kinkajous can live for more than 20 years. Wild kinkajou’s are frequently taken from their homes in the trees to be sold as pets, for meat, or for their fur. Wild animals are not pets!