Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey


Mexico, Panama, Ecuador


Lowland to lower montane rain forest and evergreen and semi deciduous forest


Spider monkeys are ideally suited for a life in the canopies of the forest. They have long limbs and flexible shoulder joints that enable them to move easily from branch to branch. They do not have opposable thumbs. This benefits them by giving them a hook-like hand to allow for great speed in swinging through the trees. They have a prehensile tail, prehensile means "able to grasp" and their tail can be used like a fifth limb. The underside of the tail has a friction pad which allows for maximum dexterity and provides unique prints like human fingerprints. Colorations are variable among species but all infants are born with a pink face and ears.

Spider Monkey

Spider monkeys are referred to as the most accomplished acrobats of the forest. They are primarily arboreal and even sleep in the tree tops. Living loosely organized in groups of 4 to 25 individuals, they are usually led by the alpha female. They have several vocalizations including barks, whinnies, screams, trills and sobs. When they display aggressively, they can pilo-erect the hair on their neck, shoulders and tail and will face each other screaming. Either in greeting or reconciliation, Spider monkeys are known to hug each other and even wrap their tails around one another.


Gestation cycle of 226-232 days. Usually, only a single baby is born. The infant is totally dependent on its mothers for about 10 weeks after which it begins to leave its mother to play and investigate its nearby surroundings, often playing with other infants. Infants are carried on their mother's stomachs until 16 weeks old and then are able to be carried on her back. Infants are not entirely independent until 36 months old. Sexual maturity occurs at 4-5 years of age.

Interesting Facts:

Their genus name, Ateles, means "imperfect", which refers to their lack of thumbs. When first discovered, Spider monkeys were observed hanging suspended from their tail with their arms and legs dangling down. This gave them a "spider-like" appearance and hence earned them their name. They are very intelligent and have an impressive memory.

About Our Animals:

We have two different species one male Black Handed and one female Brown-Headed Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey

The brown-headed Spider monkey is considered endangered and the black-handed Spider monkey is considered vulnerable. Both are at risk primarily due to habitat loss and the bush-meat trade. They are losing 35,000 acres of natural habitat a day. They are also victims of the pet trade.

Did YOU Know?    
Their genus name, Ateles means not complete refering to their lack of a thumb.
Spider Monkey
Class: mammals
Order: Primates
Genus: Ateles
Species: fusciceps and geoffroyi
Length: 15.5-21.2 inches; tail: 28-33.7 inches
Weight: About 19 pounds
Average Lifespan: 24-27 years
Wild Diet: Fruit, leaves, seeds and flowers
Zoo Diet: Monkey biscuits, fruits, vegetables and greens
Predators: Though spider monkeys have few predators, they have been shot for food in large portions of their former range.

This is an ssp animal

Where at the Zoo? Primate Forest

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