Photo: Red uakari monkey in the rain forest

Bright, bald, and very red—potential mates of the red uakari look for these distinguishing features in healthy monkeys.

Photograph by Mattias Klum

Map

Map: Red uakari range

Red Uakari Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Herbivore
Average life span in the wild:
15 to 20 years
Size:
14 to 22.5 in (36 to 57 cm)
Weight:
4.4 to 6.6 lbs (2 to 3 kg)
Group name:
Troop
Protection status:
Endangered
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Red Uakari compared with adult man

Uakaris are small South American primates with striking bald heads and bright red faces. (They may be attractive to mates because malarial or sick animals develop pale faces.) They have a long, shaggy coat that varies from reddish brown to orange. These monkeys live only in the Amazon River basin, preferring permanently or seasonally flooded rain forests and locations near water sources, such as small rivers and lakes.

Unlike most monkeys, uakaris have very short tails, but move nimbly in the trees without them by using their arms and legs.

These New World monkeys live in groups called troops and are quite social animals. Such gatherings may include close to a hundred animals, but uakaris split up during the day to forage in smaller groups of one to ten individuals. At night they sleep aloft, high in the rain forest canopy.

Uakaris forage during the day. They eat a fruit-heavy diet, but also consume leaves and some insects. Their powerful jaws can open a hardy Brazil nut. Most food is gathered in the trees, though during dry periods when food is scarce, uakaris will go to the ground in search of fallen seeds or roots.

Females give birth to just a single infant every two years. Reproductive ages are three (females) and six (males), so populations cannot experience rapid growth.

Unfortunately, these intelligent primates are on the verge of extinction. They are hunted in their Amazon forest homes for food and sometimes captured by indigenous peoples. They are also threatened by the destruction of their environment, as the timber industry clears ever increasing swaths of Amazon forest.

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