Common Name: Black-handed spider monkeys
Scientific Name: Ateles geoffroyi
Description: These agile monkeys exhibit a range of coat colors: from tawny and reddish to almost black. As the name implies their hands (and their feet) are black. Their 6- 8 kg body is easily supported by a single limb or by their prehensile tail. The tail is also used for swinging and to pick up objects. Spider monkeys are second in agility only to the gibbons of Asia. The monkeys are diurnal with feeding typically done in the morning hours. As a species hunted by man, they are typically wary of researchers. Before becoming accustomed to the newcomers, spider monkeys have occasionally broken off heavy tree limbs to drop on these suspicious intruders.
Range: Mexico to Panama with some populations reported in Colombia
Habitat: Prefer the middle and upper canopy of the forests.
Diet: Primarily fruit but includes other plant parts, insects and even eggs.
Social Life: Group size seems to fluctuate greatly. Associations of approximately 100 have been seen although typical group size is around 20 with subgroups of 2 - 8 individuals. One young is produced after a seven and a half month gestation. Maturity is reached at ages four to five.
Conservation: Habitat destruction remains the most severe threat. In addition, aggressive hunting as a food source has lead to their elimination in several areas. Three of the four species of spider monkeys, including geoffroyi, are classified as vulnerable by IUCN. Two subspecies, frontatus and panamensis, are listed as endangered by USDI and on Appendix I of CITES.
Recommended LINKS & BOOKS
Primate Info Net's spider monkey page
A great reference book on primates is Noel Rowe's The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates.
Dr. David Macdonald's Encyclopedia of Mammals is one of the great standards for mammal information including the monkeys. Purchase it through Amazon.com by clicking on the photo to help the zoo!