Eastern Black and White Colobus Monkey

Eastern Black and White Colobus Monkey


Nigeria to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania


Primary and secondary forests, along river ways and wooded grasslands


This species of Colobus have a U-shaped mantle of long white fur that descends from it's shoulders and around its' back. They have white fur surrounding their face and a long white tail. They are the only Old World monkey to have a reduced thumb. The name, Colobus, actually means "mutilated one" referring to their lack of thumbs. Colobus are great leapers often taking dives of 20-30 feet through the canopy and the lack of thumbs gives their hands a "hook-like" shape which enables them to move gracefully through the trees. They can run up to 30 miles an hour and use their powerful legs to kick or bounce off objects and opponents. They have a specialized gut that allows them to breakdown cellulose from leaves, similar to a cow.

Eastern Black and White Colobus Monkey

Colobus are mostly arboreal, spending their mornings sunbathing and will descend down to the lower levels to forage for aquatic plants. They produce a low-pitched roaring chorus for displaying and alarm-calling. They use subtle body language to show aggression including tongue-clicking and leg dropping. Social behavior and grooming are uncommon except between mother and infant. They will aggressively chase others from their territory.


Gestation length is generally unknown but estimated at about 6 1/2 months long. Infants are born with all white, curly fur and pink faces. By 6 months old they will have achieved full adult coloration. After birth, infants immediately cling to their mother's stomach where they will be carried until they are weaned.

Interesting Facts:

Colobus monkeys are sometimes referred to by the locals as "messengers of God" because of the time they spend traveling back and forth between the tree tops and the ground.

Eastern Black and White Colobus Monkey

Colobus are hunted for their pelts and sold to tourists but the biggest threat to the survival of African wildlife, like colobus, is no longer habitat loss, it's bush-meat.

What is Bushmeat? It is the illegal, commercial and unsustainable trade in wildlife meat.

Why has it become a concern? People have hunted in the past, but only to feed their families. Today, with the human population increasing dramatically, the demand for bushmeat has increased. Bushmeat is a primary source of protein for village families. Urban consumers have increased their demand for bushmeat to connect with their traditional ways. With global demand increasing for bushmeat, hunting can also be a significant source of income for village families. The bushmeat crisis is now the most significant immediate threat to the wildlife population of Africa, like colobus monkeys. Adding to the threat is the economic demand for logging and mining. Roads built for logging and mining companies allow easy access to the forest. The global demand for timber products intensifies the devastating effects of bushmeat hunting.

Who is affected by the crisis? All wildlife species are threatened by the crisis. Though hunters may target gorillas, elephants, duikers and bush pigs, once thse species have been eradicated the hunters trap smaller primates (like colobus monkeys), rodents and birds with snares. Unfortunately, 95% of the animals caught in snares are not recovered by hunters. They are either eaten by other animals or die of starvation. Conservation International and the World Conservation Union report that one-third of the world's great apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primate species are now threatened with extinction, many by the bushmeat crisis.

What are AZA Zoos doing to help the Bushmeat Crisis? Zoos accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), like Utah's Hogle Zoo, proudly support the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF) initiative by working with other conservation organizations to develop solutions to this crisis. Hogle Zoo's Curator of Education and other staff members are working with BCTF to develop and evaluate education programs that may alleviate the problem. Though the crisis is on the other side of the globe, we can still play a positive role in its solution.

How can you help? You too can make a difference! Learn about the crisis, and buy timber and wood products from sustainable forest and wildlife management programs. Express your concerns to your local, state and national officials. To learn more about the bushmeat crisis, visit the BCTF website at www.bushmeat.org

Did YOU Know?    
Colobus eat about half their body weight each day in leaves.
Eastern Black and White Colobus Monkey
Class: mammals
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Colobus
Species: guereza
Length: Head and body length: 20-26 in. Tail length: 20-32 in.
Weight: 17-30 lbs.
Average Lifespan: 22 years
Wild Diet: In the wild, colobus monkeys eat fruit, leaves and buds. Leaves are difficult to digest and have little nutritional value. In order for colobus monkeys to survive they must eat large quantities of leaves - up to half their body weight each day.
Zoo Diet: monkey biscuits, greens, vegetables and browse
Predators: Man - often hunted for their unusual pelts and bushmeat

This is an ssp animal

USFWS Status: Lower risk
CITES Status: Appendix II
Where at the Zoo? Primate Forest

Learn more about mammals or animals from Africa!
Or, cross-reference the two!