Black Howler Monkey

ZOO LOCATION: Monkey Pavilion

Lifespan: 16-20 years

Wild Diet: Browsers, eating tree branches and leaves

Zoo Diet: Monkey chow, fruits, spinach, potatoes and carrots

Predators: Boas, Harpy eagle (birds of prey)

SSP: no

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Habitat/Range: Rainforests of Paraguay

Characteristics: Large New World monkeys, black howlers have flat heads with protruding muzzles; their facial profile is slanted and the angle of the lower jaw is very high, particularly in the back portion. Bodies are robust; arms and legs are long but compact; throats covered with hair, giving the impression of beards. Males are black; females and juveniles are yellowish olive-brown. Hair is long and stiff. Noses are flat; nostrils close together. Tails are prehensile (grasping) and highly muscular.

Behavior: Arboreal. Tail tips possess a naked "prehensile sole." Howlers utilize it to climb, hold objects and use it as an extra safety device. Thumbs are fully developed and opposed to the other fingers for grasping. Locomotion is slower and more deliberate than other monkeys; they jump very rarely and when climbing usually hold on with four of their five "hands." Males stake out territories with the aid of their voice; neighboring troops respond, revealing their whereabouts, enabling troops to avoid one another. When calling, they open their jaws and purse their lips in a funnel shape; vocalizations are rapid repetitions of calls. In an excited state, the sounds produced are rougher and louder. Calls scatter over long distances and are considered to be the loudest sounds animals are capable of producing. In a troop, the strongest male calls. Calls may also be an expression of well being.

Reproduction: Gestation is approximately 180-185 days. Usually a single young is born.

Conservation: Black howler monkeys are considered Least Concern by the IUCN because of their large range, presence in several national parks, and ability to adapt to modified habitats. While their is some decline in the species numbers as a whole, with fragmented habitats they seem to adapt well to small areas and disturbed forests. Their wild populations will continue to be monitored.