Should people keep primates in zoos?


Primates are happiest in the wild, but zoos do important work. They breed animals that are becoming endangered, such as the golden lion tamarin or the silvery marmoset. Zoos also help people to learn about their ape and monkey cousins. This helps people to understand better why primates should be protected in the wild.



Amazing! Some people think that there are primates yet to be discovered - abominable snowmen! There are many tales of monstrous primates in remote parts of the world, including the yeti from central Asia.



Why are primates in danger?



Not all primates are threatened, but some are. Some, such as the emperor tamarin with its beautiful whiskery moustache, are caught to be sold as pets. Gorillas and orang-utans are in danger because people are destroying their habitat and are also hunting them. There are only about 650 gorillas left in the wild.



Is it true? People eat chimp and chips.



No. A few apes and monkeys are caught for food, but the biggest threats are the pet trade and the destruction of the places where they live.



Which primate came back from the dead?



Sometimes primates are thought to be extinct, only to re-appear. This happened with the greater bamboo lemur. Most primates are shy and good at hiding. Also, they often live in remote places which are difficult to explore.



Picture Credit : Google


Which ape uses tools?


Chimps are very clever, and even make simple tools. They sometimes strip a stick of its bark to make a kind of fishing rod that they use to fish for termites. They also use sticks to gather honey so they needn’t get too close to the nest and risk a nasty bee sting!



Amazing! Chimps take medicine. Chimpanzees sometimes eat plants that don’t taste very nice at all, as cures for illness. One herbal remedy is aspilia, which gets rid of tummy upsets and worms.



Can apes paint?



Tame chimps and gorillas have been given paints and paper so they can make pictures. Some of the results look like the work of human artists, and foxed a few of the so-called experts who couldn’t tell the difference!



Is it true? Chimps can talk.



No. People have taught chimps to point at symbols and to use sign language, so we know that they are clever enough to understand language. But chimps’ vocal cords are unable to produce spoken words like ours.



Who carries a pet stone?



Chimpanzees who live on Mount Tai, in West Africa, use a stone as a nutcracker to smash open the hard shells of the coula nut. There aren’t many rocks on the mountain, so each chimp carries around its own favourite stone.



Picture Credit : Google


Who’s the king of the swingers?


Gibbons are the champion swingers. They have special bones in their wrists and shoulders to give them plenty of swing as they move from tree to tree. These long-armed apes live in the tropical forests of Malaysia and Indonesia.



Amazing! Primates have their own cushions. Many primates, including baboons which spend a lot of time sitting around, have built-in padding on their bottoms.



What hangs by the tail?



Woolly monkeys, spider monkeys and howler monkeys all have a bare patch of tail for extra grip. They are the only primates that can support all their weight with the tail and hang upside-down.



When are two legs better than four?



Crossing open ground can be a dangerous business with predators about. Lemurs can travel much more quickly on two legs than four. Standing upright also gives them a better view, and frees up their front legs, to pick up food.



Is it true? Slow lorises really do move slowly.



Yes. Lorises are the most relaxed primates. Unlike their busy monkey cousins, lorises stroll very slowly through the forest in search of food.



Picture Credit : Google


Which is the noisiest primate?



The howler monkey is well-named, because it makes a terrific noise that can be heard up to five kilometres away through the trees. They hold howling competitions with neighbouring groups, to remind each other to keep to their own part of the forest.



Amazing! Monkeys do sentry duty. When a troop is enjoying a feast, one or two animals keep a lookout for predators. They have many different warning calls. For example, they make a certain noise only if a leopard is nearby.



Who grins with fright?



Chimpanzees have a special fear grin. They use it to warn others of danger without making a giveaway noise. Sometimes, when chimps come face to face with a predator, they use the horrible grin to try to frighten it away.



Is it true? Bushbabies rub wee on their feet!



Yes. And they also rub wee on their hands! It’s their way of leaving lots of smelly graffiti on the trees. Every place they’ve gripped has a scent which says ‘we were here’.



Whose bottom has something to say?



Many primates have brightly-coloured bottoms which are easy to see in the dim forest light. These bottoms tell other members of their own kind where they are. The mandrill’s bottom is the most colourful - it’s bright blue and red!




Picture Credit : Google



How do lemur babies get around?


Like all primates, newborn lemur babies cling to their mum’s tum as she moves about the forest. As they get bigger and more curious, they have a piggyback, to get a better view.



Is it true? Only mums look after primate babies.



No. Baby titis are looked after by dad, and young male baboons often borrow a baby. No older male will attack, in case they harm the baby!



Do primate babies drink milk?



Primates are mammals - they give birth to live young and feed them milk. Most primates, including humans, usually have one baby at a time, but marmosets usually have twins.



Amazing! Baby gibbons wear bonnets. When it’s born, a baby gibbon has a cap of fur on the top of its head. Just like human babies, the rest of the baby gibbon’s body is completely bare!



Why are monkeys so cheeky?



All young monkeys love to play and it’s as important as school is for you! This is how they learn the skills they will need when they grow up.



Picture Credit : Google