Colobus monkeys typically live in groups of 6-10 individuals, consisting of a male, a few females, and their young. Males that are not strong enough to lead a group yet will live alone or with a group of bachelors. The breeding season is strictly seasonal, usually falling during the rainy season. When a female is about to give birth, she leaves the group along with the male, they return within a day of the baby monkey’s birth. These monkeys spend a large portion of the day resting, allowing their food to digest in their ruminant-like stomachs. They spend about 30% of the day feeding in the forest canopy, before the heat of the day (they rest during the heat of the day).
Colobus guereza kikuyuensis
Distribution: Tropical forests of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares
Diet in the Wild: Leaves, fruit, flowers and insects
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Monkey chow, various fruits and vegetables, bread, eggs and peanuts
IUCN Red List Status: Least concern, population stable
The colobus monkey has a multi-chambered stomach filled with various bacteria that assist with the breakdown of cellulose. Cellulose is found in the cells of all plants and is notoriously difficult to digest.
The colobus monkey only has a small stump where its thumb would be. While this sounds like a disadvantage, this lack of a true thumb, coupled with the colobus’ long fingers, is actually a great adaptation for swinging between branches. The colobus’ fingers wrap around branches like a hook, which means that a thumb isn’t needed for grasping!