Black and White Colobus Monkey

ZOO LOCATION: African Rift Valley

Lifespan: 20-30 years

Wild Diet: Leaves, buds, seeds, shoots and occasionally fruit.

Zoo Diet: Monkey chow, fruits and vegetables.

Predators: Leopards, crowned eagle hawks and humans.

SSP: yes

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Forested areas near water, montane forests and lowland tropical rainforests near equatorial Africa

Characteristics: Black-and-white colobus monkeys are primarily black, with white hair surrounding their faces, down the sides of their backs and white tails. Their head and body length is up to 30 in., tail about 32 in., weight up to 24 lbs. Unlike other monkeys, Colobus monkeys do not have true thumbs. The name "colobus" is Greek for 'mutilated,' and were named such because they are lacking thumbs. This adaptation actually helps them move through the trees more easily.

Colobus monkeys have specialized stomachs to help them digest plant material. This enables them to get more nutrition out of their food than other primates might. If you watch them eat, you may also notice that they belch from time to time; this releases the carbon dioxide their stomach creates as a part of the digestive process.

Behavior: Colobus monkeys are arboreal (tree-dwelling), moving with great ease through the highest treetops using branches as trampolines to get lift off for leaps of up to 50 feet. They typically live in groups, sometimes as large as 15 members. Groups do not usually intermingle and when they do, the meeting can be violent. Each morning and evening males call to designate the troops location and designate space between groups!

Reproduction: After a gestation of about 180 days, females give birth to a single offspring. Young are born pure white and gain their black-and-white coloring after the first few weeks. There isn't a designated breeding season for colobus, so young are born throughout the year. Mothers will sometimes allow other female troop members to care for and nurse their infants. Females are mature around 5 years of age and males around 8 years of age.

Conservation: According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Colobus are stable enough to be listed as Least Concern as although locally threatened in parts of its range. Threats include habitat loss through deforestation for timber and conversion of forests to cropland. Hunting may also impact populations in the western part of their range. This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES. For details on that listing, please visit