Photo of the Month: Mandrill

By Megan Runquist Holmstedt

Mandrill; PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Pham

Status: This species (Mandrillus sphinx) is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) primarily due to poaching and habitat loss. The mandrill is hunted for the bushmeat trade, which has become more intense as human populations increase, and as human settlements expand, the mandrill’s habitat is being logged and cleared for agricultural use.

Habitat: This monkey inhabits the rainforests of western equatorial Africa. It is both terrestrial, spending time traveling and foraging on the ground, and arboreal, spending time in the trees where the group, called a troop, sleeps every night.

Diet: The mandrill is omnivorous, eating a variety of foods including seeds, nuts, leaves, and fruits, as well as small animals, insects, and eggs. This species has large cheek pouches inside its mouth that can be stuffed full of food to eat at a later time.

This is the largest and most colorful of the monkeys, weighing an average of 70 pounds (males) and 25 pounds (females), and possessing a short, three-inch tail. Related to baboons and drills, the mandrill has a furry head crest, mane, and beard, as well as massive canine teeth that are used in threat displays and defense. The most striking feature, however, is the bright coloration of the adult mandrill’s face. Dominant males are more vibrantly colored due to higher levels of testosterone; the brighter the color, the more attractive the male.

After a gestation of nearly six months, female mandrills give birth usually to one baby. The infant can cling to its mother’s belly immediately and is weaned at around six months of age. The youngster typically stays with its mother until she gives birth to her next baby.

The Zoo’s mandrill roundhouse is located in the uppermost section of the old Africa loop. This infant female was born on August 3rd to mother Juliette; another baby was born two weeks later to mother Clementine. Both can be seen on exhibit with the rest of the troop.

The Los Angeles Zoo participates in the conservation of the mandrill’s endangered relative, the drill, in western Africa. Drills are similar in appearance to mandrills, but without the vivid facial coloring. Learn more about the program here.