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Uakari, Red

Uakari on a branch at the LA Zoo Photo Credit Jamie Pham

Scientific Name: Cacajao rubicundus

Uakari’s bright red faces are created by the large numbers of capillaries under the skin of their faces and bald heads. They can flush even brighter when they’re excited or irritated.

Just Like the Scouts

Sociable, intelligent and playful, Red uakaris live in groups called troops. These units of males, females and young may include up to 100 animals which split up into smaller units of five to 30  animals to forage.

Uakari populations can not grow quickly because females give birth to a single baby only every two years. Most uakari females begin reproducing around the age of three, while males reach sexual maturity at around age six. The average gestation period is 182 days.

Unfortunately, this species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature because the population has declined significantly over the past thirty years primarily due to habitat loss and hunting. Young uakaris are sometimes captured as pets by indigenous peoples.

Uakaris are found in the Amazon River basin of western Brazil, eastern Peru and possibly southern Colombia. They prefer sites along small rivers and lakes within permanently or seasonally flooded rain forests. Almost totally arboreal – meaning that they live in trees – these diurnal primates spend most of their day foraging in the rain forest canopy. At night, they sleep in thin branches high in these trees.

These colorful monkeys forage for ripe fruits, the seeds of immature fruits, leaves, nuts, nectar and some insects, including caterpillars. Their strong teeth and jaws allow them to open large and tough-husked fruit, seeds and nuts.

Red uakaris don’t have prehensile tails that can wrap around a tree branch. Still, even with their short, six-inch tails, they are able to move agilely though the forest canopy using both their arms and legs. Females weigh about 20 to 22 pounds and males are 20% bigger. Except for their bald heads, they are covered with medium-length, dusty red hair and have long, furry fingers and toes with claws. While normally quiet, these monkeys emit a variety of chattering squeals to communicate with each other. In the wild, their average lifespan is approximately 18 years.

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