Woolly monkey
The woolly monkeys are the genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Lagothrix of New World monkeys, usually placed in the family Atelidae
Atelidae is one of the five families of New World monkeys now recognised. It was formerly included in the family Cebidae. Atelids are generally larger monkeys; the family includes the howler, spider, woolly and woolly spider monkeys...


There are four species of woolly monkey. All originate from the rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. They have a prehensile tail
Prehensile tail
A prehensile tail is the tail of an animal that has adapted to be able to grasp and/or hold objects. Fully prehensile tails can be used to hold and manipulate objects, and in particular to aid arboreal creatures in finding and eating food in the trees...

 and live in relatively large social groups.

One species of woolly monkey, the Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey
Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey
The yellow-tailed woolly monkey is a New World monkey endemic to Peru. It is a rare primate species found only in the Peruvian Andes, in the departments of Amazonas and San Martin as well as bordering areas of La Libertad, Huanuco and Loreto...

, has recently been placed in the genus Oreonax.


Woolly monkeys have coat colour variations extending from dark brown, red-brown, gray and olive. Their back sides are usually lighter in color than their under-belly side. They have black faces, and the palms of their hands are a deep pink color. Their tails are long and thick and a strong enough to support the animals' full body weight. The species has a prehensile tail which grips on tight to branches, which acts as a fifth limb, enabling the animal to forage while hanging on to a branch with its tail. Woolly monkeys weigh an average of 17 pounds, though males are substantially larger than females.

Habitat and social behaviour

Woolly monkeys are found throughout the northern countries of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

). They usually reside in high elevation cloud forests, seasonally flooded rainforests and forests which situated within Colombia's eastern plains region, although their ideal habitat resides in humid and mature tropical forests.

The species lives in social groups ranging from 10 to 45 individuals. Foraging groups, however, tend to consist of 2 to 6 individuals which branch out from the main group, and this is probably intended to reduce food competition among individuals. Woolly monkeys have a diet which consists of fruit with an addition of leaves, seeds, flowers and invertebrate
An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species – all animals except those in the chordate subphylum Vertebrata .Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group...

s. Each group is governed and led by an Alpha male, and the social organization within a larger group is organized by age, sex, and the reproductive status of females. Reproduction in these groups is characterized by promiscuity, in other words one male (either the alpha or subordinate) will mate with more than one female, just as females will mate with more than one male. Shortly after the females reach maturity they leave their natal (birth) groups to avoid any occurrence of inbreeding, while males tend to remain in their natal groups.

Play sessions among individuals not only serves as a bonding process to rekindle relationships among individuals but is also a way the species establish a hierarchy or social pecking order as well as passive food sharing which is also considered a common routine in the species. Woolly monkeys have an elaborate system of vocalization, olfactory (communication by scent), visual and tactile (communication through touch). Communication can be used to coordinate group activities, indicate aggression, affection and marking and establishing territory.

Predation and preservation

Woolly monkeys are predated by a variety of species of eagle and cat species like the Jaguar
The jaguar is a big cat, a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Southern United States and Mexico...

. Its main predator however, is humans, who hunt the species both for nutrition and for the illegal pet trade. Habitat encroachment is also threatening the survival of the species and it is believed that all these factors are the cause of the species recent decline. Woolly monkeys are now considered highly endangered and captive individuals are bred to ensure the survival of the species as part of the International Breeding Program for Endangered Species( such as the European Breeding Program for Endangered Species, shortly known as 'EEP').

Species list

  • Brown Woolly Monkey
    Brown Woolly Monkey
    The brown woolly monkey or common woolly monkey or Humboldt's Woolly Monkey is a woolly monkey from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. It lives in groups of 2 to 70 individuals, usually splitting the group into smaller subgroups while in activity.Many published sources give the systematic name as L...

    , Lagothrix lagotricha
  • Gray Woolly Monkey
    Gray Woolly Monkey
    The gray woolly monkey, Lagothrix cana, is a woolly monkey species from South America. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru....

    , Lagothrix cana
    • Lagothrix cana cana
    • Lagothrix cana tschudii
  • Colombian Woolly Monkey
    Colombian Woolly Monkey
    The Colombian woolly monkey, Lagothrix lugens, is a critically endangered species of woolly monkey from Colombia and possibly also Venezuela.-References:...

    , Lagothrix lugens
  • Silvery Woolly Monkey
    Silvery Woolly Monkey
    The silvery woolly monkey , also known as Poeppig's woolly monkey, is a woolly monkey species from South America. Named after the German zoologist Eduard Friedrich Poeppig, it is found in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru....

    , Lagothrix poeppigii

External links

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