Photo of the Month: Red-crowned Mangabey

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Red-crowned Mangabey; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Red-crowned Mangabey; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: This species (Cercocebus torquatus) is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) primarily due to habitat loss and hunting for bushmeat; in some places, this monkey is also hunted as an agricultural pest. The wild population has declined dramatically during the last three decades, and it is estimated that only a few thousand of these animals remain.

Habitat: The red-crowned mangabey lives in the tropical rainforests of coastal West Africa from Nigeria to Angola. It can be found in a broad range of habitats in the region, from swamps and mangroves to dry forests and cultivated areas, as long as it is close to drinking water.

Diet: Fruit, nuts, seeds, and insects make up the bulk of the mangabey’s diet, but it also eats young leaves, grass, mushrooms, and agricultural crops when the opportunity presents itself. With its powerful jaw and incisor teeth, the mangabey can easily crack most nuts, which allows it to access fruit and seeds that are too difficult for other monkeys to open.

All species of mangabey have tails that are longer than their bodies, providing balance as they move through the rainforest canopy. They are both arboreal and terrestrial; typically, these monkeys use trees as food sources and hiding and sleeping spots, but they escape predators like leopards and eagles by running on the ground.

Mangabeys are very vocal monkeys, and along with the usual shrieks and screams, they grunt, chuckle, bark, and roar. To send quieter signals, it is thought that they use their striking white eyelids to communicate certain social cues.

Kerchek, pictured, is a male red-crowned mangabey in residence at the L.A. Zoo’s upper Africa roundhouse exhibits.