Southwick’s Zoo has one of the largest primate collections in New England. Primates include prosimians or lower order primates, monkeys, apes, and humans. Primates are primarily sorted into two main groupings: prosimians and simians. Prosimians have characteristics most like the earliest primates and include lemurs, aye-aye, and tarsiers. Simians include monkeys and apes. Monkeys are divided into two groups: New World Monkeys which include Capuchins, Howler, and Squirrel Monkeys and Old World Monkeys such as Colobus Monkeys, Guenons, Baboons and Macquaques. Some primates (including humans and baboons) do not live primarily in trees, but many species possess adaptations for climbing trees. Locomotion techniques used by some primates include leaping from tree to tree, walking on two or four limbs, knuckle-walking, and swinging hand over hand between branches of trees (known as brachiation). Many primates have opposable thumbs (a thumb which can be turned so that the fingertip can make contact with the fingertip of each of the other digits on the same hand) and some New World Monkeys have prehensile tails (meaning adapted for grasping or holding). Primates come in many shapes and sizes, and generally have slower rates of development than other mammals. All non-human primate infants are breastfed by their mothers and rely on them for grooming and transportation. In some species, infants are protected and transported by male primates in the group, particularly males who may be their fathers. Other relatives of the infant, such as siblings and aunts, may participate in its care as well. Most primates are considered to be truly social animals and prefer to live in small to large groups or troops. Early on these young primates learn social and many other behavioral skills needed for protection, often through playing and watching their parents. A primate’s lifespan can range from 8 years (Dwarf Lemur) or 11 years (Pygmy Marmoset) – 60 years (Chimpanzee)!
Many of the primates at Southwick’s Zoo are considered endangered due to deforestation, human population expansion, poaching and encroachment. Many primates are arboreal or tree dwellers and inhabit forest habitats or sub tropical and tropical rainforests. Destruction of these habitats are of great concern to conservationists as each year more primates become endangered and on the brink of extinction. Southwick’s Zoo is home to many endangered primates; including the White Handed Gibbon, Black Spider Monkey, Mandrill, Black & White Ruffed Lemurs, and Colobus Monkey, just to name a few.
Here at Southwick’s Zoo we are home to primates from many species including Lemurs, Capuchins, Squirrel Monkeys, Schmidt’s Guenon, Debrazza’s Guenon, Bush Baby, Mangabey Monkey, Patas Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys and Chimpanzees!
- Monkeys have tails; Apes Do Not!
- The Chimpanzee Habitat is one of the most favored by visitors to Southwick’s Zoo. You can get a great view of the Chimpanzees from the Skyfari Sky Ride!
- Chimpanzees are very intelligent animals. They will use tools to obtain food or entertainment. They are known to throw items at their enemies!
- Lemurs will participate in sunbathing. They will lay or sit, arms stretched out with their bellies facing the sun!
- Spider Monkeys barely climb lower than 66 feet in the wild, they primarily live in the highest of tree tops.
- Gibbons are famous for the way they “sing” together, called dueting.
- Capuchins are considered the most intelligent of the new world monkeys.
- In the wild, African Tribal Leaders will use the Colobus Monkey hair as a head dress because of the black and white coloring with long fur & tail.
- Mandrill males are considered the most colorful of primates due to the blue and red coloring on their nose and the yellow, red and purple coloring on their behind.