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Goeldi's monkey

Scientific name: Callimico goeldii

Country: Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, ColumbiaGeoldi monkey

Continent: South America

Diet: Fruits - frugivore, insects - insectivore, frogs - ranivore, other small vertebrates.

Food & feeding: Omnivore

Habitats: Tropical rainforest

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Relatives: Black howler monkey, golden-headed lion tamarin

Description: Goeldi's monkey is a zoological puzzle. It is small and looks rather like a tamarin and like them, has claws rather than nails on the fingers. But its teeth and skull shape are more like the bigger New World primates, such as capucins. It is now thought to be in a separate group of primates, distantly related to both tamarins and capucins. They are about 25 cm long and weigh about 0.5 kg. They are entirely black with long hair that sticks out around the head.

Lifestyle: They have long tails used for balance as they move through the dense forest and long limbs for climbing and hanging in the trees. They race through the forest looking for fruiting trees, often in the company of other species of marmosets and tamarins. They must travel further in the dry season to find trees that are in fruit. Most of the distance is covered by leaping from tree to tree at the trunk level, only about 3m above the ground. While most time is spent in the trees, they will come down to the ground, especially when looking for insects or vertebrates. They are active during the day time (diurnal) and spend their nights inside a tree-hole with other family members.

Family & friends: They usually live in extended family groups of about 4-10 animals made up of a breeding pair and their offspring. The latter remain in the group, even when adult, to help care for their younger siblings. These 'helpers' gain valuable breeding experience whilst waiting for a suitable territory to become available.

Keeping in touch: Goeldi's monkeys have several different scent glands and they often cover their tails in scent by rubbing them on their undersides. The nose, face and other parts of the body are also rubbed onto branches. The long hair around the head is sometimes raised around the head perhaps in a threat display. Like many other monkeys, they have a range of calls: chirps, chucks and screams that are used to keep in touch when feeding, to warn of approaching danger or to keep in touch with neighbouring groups.

Growing up: The dominant female will give birth to just one infant (different from tamarins) after a gestation period of about 155 days. She takes sole responsibility for her offspring for the first 10 to 20 days, after which the male and older siblings take turns in carrying the infant. Weaning takes about 65 days, whilst sexual maturity is reached at 8.5 months in females and 16.5 months in males. Lifespan in captivity is 10 years.

Goeldi's monkey was one of the last species of monkey to be discovered by western explorers. It was discovered by.... yes, you guessed it, a Swiss naturalist called Emilio Goeldi, in 1904. Its small size, dark colour and remote habitat had delayed its discovery.

Conservation news: The forest where these monkeys live is under continual threat of deforestation for logging, farming, oil and gas enterprises. Here at Bristol Zoo Gardens, they form part of a breeding programme to increase numbers in captivity.