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Endangered Capuchin Born at Zoo de la Palmyre


A Yellow-breasted Capuchin was born on May 17, at Zoo de la Palmyre, bringing the number living in the Zoo’s Monkey House to a total of ten.

The sex of the young Capuchin is yet unknown. Determining the sex requires being able to observe the infant closely, in the right position, which isn’t easy during the first weeks, as the baby spends a lot of time sleeping with its belly pressed against mother.


4_MG_0763Photo Credits: F. Perroux/Zoo de la Palmyre

Capuchins are New World monkeys of the subfamily Cebinae. They are readily identified as the "organ-grinder" monkey, and were once very popular in movies and television. The range of Capuchin monkeys includes Central America and South America as far south as northern Argentina. They usually occupy the wet lowland forests on Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and Panama and deciduous dry forest on the Pacific coast.

There are 22 different species of Capuchins in the wild. Yellow-breasted Capuchins (Cebus xanthosternos), also known as “Buff-headed Capuchin” or “Golden-bellied Capuchin”, are endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic forest and live in groups from 10 to 30 individuals. Males can exceed 4kg while females are smaller and weigh less than 3.5kg.

Their prehensile tail acts like a fifth limb and allows them to free their hands while foraging. But unlike the tail of Spider and Howler Monkeys, Capuchins cannot hang by their tail excepting young individuals helped by their lower weight.

Although their diet is mostly composed of fruits, Capuchins also consume eggs and small prey, such as lizards, insects, or birds.

The species is severely threatened by habitat loss, as a result of the massive ongoing deforestation throughout its range: about 92% of the original surface of the Brazilian Atlantic forest has already been destroyed. Captures for the illegal pet trade and hunting for food are also serious treats.

The Yellow-breasted Capuchin is among the most rare of the Neotropical primates and is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Giving this alarming situation, an international breeding program has been developed since 2000 and today, gathers more than 170 individuals in European zoos (and more than 60 in Brazil).

In order to ensure its survival in the wild, zoos, including La Palmyre, fund its conservation in Brazil through the ZOOLOGISCHE GESELLSCHAFT FÜR ARTEN- UND POPULATIONSSCHUTZ e.V. (ZGAP) association.