The Golden-bellied Capuchin is highly threatened with extinction. Münster Zoo houses the largest breeding group in Germany and the second largest in Europe!
On August 6th and 11th, the Zoo welcomed two new infants to their troop. This is an encouraging breeding success because Golden-bellied Capuchin are considered, by some, to be the most intelligent monkeys in South America, and they are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
A mere 194 Golden-bellied Capuchin live in 21 facilities throughout Europe. The Münster Zoo is home to 16 of the monkeys, making it the largest breeding group of Germany. The Zoo’s Capuchin troop is the second largest in Europe, behind La Vallée de Singes in France, which is home to 17 of the monkeys.
Photo Credits: Münster Zoo
The Golden-bellied Capuchin (Sapajus xanthosternos), also known as the Yellow-breasted or Buffy-headed Capuchin, is a species of New World monkey.
Although there are differences between individuals, as well as between the sexes and across age groups, S. xanthosternos is described as having a distinctive yellow to golden red chest, belly and upper arms. Its face is a light brown, and its cap, for which the capuchins were first named, is a dark brown/black or light brown.
Capuchins are diurnal and arboreal. With the exception of a midday nap, they spend their entire day searching for food. At night, they sleep in the trees, wedged between branches.
They feed on a vast range of food types and are more varied than other monkeys in the family Cebidae. They are omnivores, and consume a variety of plant parts such as leaves, flower and fruit, seeds, pith, woody tissue, sugarcane, bulb, and exudates, as well as arthropods, mollusks, a variety of vertebrates, and even primates.
Capuchin monkeys often live in large groups of 10 to 35 individuals within the forest, although they can easily adapt to places colonized by humans. Usually, a single male will dominate the group and have primary rights to mate with the females of their group. The stabilization of group dynamics is served through mutual grooming, and communication occurs between the monkeys through various calls.
Capuchins can jump up to nine feet (3 m), and they use this mode of transport to get from one tree to another. They remain hidden among forest vegetation for most of the day, sleeping on tree branches and descending to the ground to find drinking water.
Females generally bear young every two years, following a 160- to 180-day gestation. The young cling to their mother's chest until they are larger, when they move to her back. Adult male Capuchins rarely take part in caring for the young. Juveniles become fully mature within four years for females and eight years for males. In captivity, individuals have reached an age of 45 years, although natural life expectancy is only 15 to 25 years.
Populations of Golden-bellied Capuchin are restricted to the Atlantic forest of Southeastern Bahia, Brazil, due possibly to high degrees of interference from humans. Historically they probably would have inhabited the entire area east of, and north to, the Rio São Francisco.
The largest continuous area of forest in its known range, the Una Biological Reserve in Bahia, is estimated to contain a population of 185 individuals.
The main reason for the threat to this subspecies is the large-scale destruction of their habitat in eastern Brazil. The local coastal forests were cleared to a great extent and exist only in the form of small remnants. Another danger is the hunting. Within the last 50 years the total population of Golden-bellied Capuchin has gone back more than 80 percent. There are some groups in protected areas, but many of these deposits are too small. Therefore, a breeding program by the Brazilian government, in collaboration with the World of Zoos (WAZA), has been launched.