The largest monkey species, mandrills are similar in appearance to baboons but DNA studies show they are more closely related to mangabeys.

Mandrills travel in multi-male and multi-female groups called troops, which range from 20 animals to, on occasion, more than 200. The leader of the troop is a single dominant male, usually the individual with the brightest and boldest colors.

Although the character Rafiki from The Lion King is often referred to as a baboon, the colors on his face indicate that he is actually a mandrill.


Mandrills live in the remaining primary and secondary rainforests of western Africa in Cameroon, Gabon and southwestern Congo. They are both terrestrial, spending time on the ground, and arboreal, spending time in the trees where they sleep every night.


They are omnivores, eating a variety of foods, with fruits and seeds making up over 90 percent of their diet. They also eat bark, leaves, palm nuts, ants, termites, dung beetles, spiders, tortoises, duikers (small antelopes), birds, mice, frogs, crabs, and bird eggs. They often raid farmers’ crops and plantations.


Mandrills are the largest monkey species and one of the most colorful. Both sexes have shaggy brown hair and short, stubby tails. The males have red, white, and blue faces and similarly colored rear ends and genitals. The reds and blues can blend to form gorgeous hues of purple. The females, half the size of the males, have paler faces and sexual swellings around their genitalia that turn pink and shiny when they are in estrous and ready to breed. This is an advertising system to attract the many males in the group to mate with them. They have scent glands on their chests and are one of the few Old World monkeys to scent-mark.