Animalogy: Primate Basics by Bassam Imam - HTML preview
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ANIMALOGY: PRIMATE AND PIGEON BASICS
Note: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Classification is as
A. Not Evaluated (NE)
B. Data Deficient (DD)
C. Least Concern (LC)
D. Near Threatened (NT)
E. Vulnerable (VU)
F. Endangered (EN)
G. Critically Endangered (CR)
H. Extinct in the Wild (EW)
I. Extinct (EX) (Generally 50 Years or More)
Before describing the Great Apes, Lesser Apes, Monkeys and
Pro-simians, I shall briefly discuss what a primate is.
Primates are members of the biological Order Primates. They
Include the Humans, Great Apes, Lesser Apes, Monkeys and Prosimians.
This book will not include humans hence the title
Primates have 5 fingers (Pentadactyly). All Apes have
opposable thumbs. Many New World Monkeys have opposable thumbs
on their hands. Many species of primates also have opposable toes. Primates do not have paws; all primate species have hands.
The sophistication of the grasping technique depends on the particular species.
Most primates have flat fingernails (excluding Marmosets
Binocular stereoscopic vision allows Apes to rely more on vision than smell. Prosimians rely more on scent relative to vision in comparison to their more advanced relatives. Many species of diurnal primates have coloured vision.
Primates have long, flexible backbones, short flexible
necks, possess a clavicle (collar bone) and have large complex brains for higher mental functioning.
There are no bald primate species. All are essentially
covered with hair. The amount, thickness and colour of hair are variable, depending on species, age, gender and health. Serious illness or starvation can result in large patches of baldness on the body.
Vision in primates can be diurnal or nocturnal. A few
species of primates are crepuscular (primarily active at dawn and/or dusk.
Some species are exclusively arboreal while others are
predominately arboreal descending to the forest floor to catch prey or to pick up fallen fruit, to drink water or to travel.
Some primate species are predominately or solely terrestrial.
Water is obtained by eating juicy fruits, cupping leaves in
Primates have 3D vision. All apes and monkeys have mobile eyes. Some pro-simian species have fixed eyes. In the latter case, the eyes are basically too large for the sockets and appear too large in comparison to head size. These primates possess a special adaptation in their spinal cord enabling them to turn their heads a full 180 degrees, like owls, who by the way also have large and fixed eyes.
travelling, if present in any primate species tends to be brief, often comical and will never be permanent due to physiological limitations in the food and spinal cord. Humans are the supreme bipedal species.
With forward-facing eyes and 3D vision is necessary for brachiating and leaping. In addition, these characteristics are needed by primates to catch prey. Diurnal primates tend to have the best colour vision.
(excluding humans) are the Great Apes.
Opposable thumbs are used for grasping or grasp-like grip.
This ability is used in tool making, and in the case of chimpanzees the ability to toss and throw. Tool making is not common amongst primate species.
Orang-utans have thumbs that are located further back in relation to the other fingers on their hands. In addition to this, they have unusually long fingers aiding in the clinging onto branches.
Great Apes lack tails. Tails in non-apes can be prehensile (hooking) and/or used for balance. Some primates have tails that are longer than their head and body. Yet others have studs or remnants of tails.
Primates have an incredible plethora of pelage colours,
contours and sizes. The largest living Primate is the gorilla.
The smallest is the Mouse Lemur.
Great Apes include Gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonobos and
Orang-utans. Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Bonobos inhabit parts of Africa. Orang-utans inhabit islands in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Gibbons are Lesser Apes.
Apes tend to have few offspring and their child is longer than non-apes.
Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Bonobos spend much time on the forest floor (primarily terrestrial). Orang-utans appear quite clumsy when walking on the ground. Gibbons are incredible brachiators and spending almost all of their time in trees.
Adult Gorillas, in particular males are too heavy to brachiate.
Possessing a highly developed brain, grasping hands, flat fingernails and well-designed fingerprints Great Apes are more advanced on the evolutionary scale than monkeys or Prosimians.
They take more advantage of learned behaviour patterns for survival.
Whenever you come upon stats (example: 2:1:3:3) pertaining to dental formula, use the easy to remember acronym ICPM:
Regarding the above example written in parenthesis it is for one side of the jaw. Double the number and you get the total 4
for both sides of the jaw. If indicated in fraction form the lower jaw dental formula is written on the bottom row, the upper jaw on the upper row. If a fraction form is not used it can be indicated in chart form or in complete words describing which jaw the formula is for.
The first ‘European sighting’ of a gorilla in its native habitat was in the 5th Century B.C. by a Roman explorer.
Gorillas share 98.5 percent of our genetic material. Only Chimpanzees and Bonobos surpass gorillas in genetic similarity to us.
Full-grown male gorillas average 5.5 ft. but can reach 6
ft. in height. Weight can range between 400 to 500 lbs.
depending on the sub-species. In extra-ordinary circumstances males can reach upwards of 600 lbs. Females reach 4.5 or taller and weigh 200 lbs. or more.
Gorillas are the largest and most powerful of the Great Apes. They are stocky, very muscular and have a sagital crest on their head which helps give them very powerful jaw muscles for crushing plants.
Gorillas have 32 teeth, and their large menacing canines are primarily used as part of a threatening posture, but can be used in the uncommon fight; most of their aggression antics are for show. They are usually peaceful but will fight to protect their group. Gorillas are somewhat near-sighted.
Gorillas are herbivores that eat 50 lbs. of plant food daily. Much of their water needs are a satisfied from consuming plants. They have also been observed practicing coprophagia (eating of feces).
Gorillas never eat all of the leaves from a plant. This behaviour allows the plant to more rapidly refurbish its losses.
As a result, Gorillas must travel to pluck more leaves from more plants.
Silverbacks are entrusted in the defence of the group. In the process they acquire several females. Because of the constant moving the territorial instinct isn’t strong. In fact, group territories often overlap those of others.
A group usually includes one Silverback, up to 5 adult females, a youth and up to a half a dozen youngsters.
Gorillas are knuckle walkers and have been observed using tools in the wild. They can be taught tool use in captivity.
Lifespan for Gorillas in the wild is 30 to 35 years. In captivity it may reach 50 years.
There are 2 species of Gorilla and each species contains 2
-Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla Berengei)
-Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla)
Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla Berengei berengei) is a sub-
species of the Eastern Gorilla. They are larger than Western Gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas are the rarest of gorilla sub-species.
They live in high altitudes not exceeding 14000 ft. Mountain Gorillas are robust and covered with long hair. Dangers include habitat destruction, low population, and slow reproduction (one birth after a 260 gestation period). Historically hunting of these Gorillas was a danger.
Mountain Gorillas eat leaves, shoots, thistles, nettles,
stems, bark and bamboo. In necessity or to supplement the diet snails, insects and slugs are eaten.
There are 2 Mountain Gorilla populations at a total of 700
individuals. They live within 4 national parks including the Bwindi
containing 350 individuals; Volcanoes National Park, North-Western Rwanda; Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda; Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
settlements (more than 400 per square kilometre). Mining, illegal hunting, bush-meat and acquisition of natural resources are dangers.
The horrific civil war during the 1990s between the Hutus and Tutsis resulted in a genocide campaign against the latter, resulting in the forceful migration of millions of refugees ever closer to Mountain gorilla habitat.
Park rangers and volunteers weren’t safe. Starving refugees killed around 25 Mountain Gorillas.
In early 2007, several Virunga National Park workers were killed and injured by armed individuals, likely poachers.
The Kerisoke Research Center in Rwanda is the world’s most prolific center for the study of and activism for the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas. The Karisoke Research Center has helped to bring forth world attention to the plight of the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas. It later became known as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
The Kerisoke Research Center was founded by Dian Fossey, in
September of 1967. It was located between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Kerisoke, hence its name Kerisoke. The work that was done for the Mountain Gorillas has not abated.
Gorillas have little to no immunity to some of the diseases
that humans can carry. A single contamination can result in mass illness and even death in any sub-species of gorillas.
The Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla Berengei Graueri) is a
sub-species of the Eastern Gorilla. It is robust, and has larger 6
canines and more muscle mass than its Western Lowland Gorilla counterpart.
There are 4000 to 5000 Eastern Lowland Gorillas. 25
individuals are housed in zoos.
Eastern Lowland Gorillas eat fruit, seeds, bamboo shoots, and when necessary insects. The Silverback is always the leader.
The Eastern Lowland Gorilla has a large head and a shiny dark face. Weight ranges from 450 to 550 lbs. and can reach 6
ft. in height. Its body and face are not as wide as the Mountain Gorilla’s.
Dangers to the Eastern Lowland Gorilla include political instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mining, habitat loss, war and illegal hunting. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda resulted in the destruction of much of the habitat of this gorilla species. Refugees used more land for agriculture, wood and charcoal. In addition, gorillas became a source of food or profit. Baby gorillas were sold for a good price. The population of Eastern Lowland gorillas plummeted from 17000 to 4000 in a short period of time.
Government workers and volunteers were forced to flee for their lives because of the danger of the situation.
Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is a
sub-species of the Western Gorilla; it is endangered.
Western Lowland Gorillas inhabit rainforests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola. Although it is difficult to accurately assess their population, it is estimated to be 150000 to 200000.
deforestation, bush meat, illegal trade and sale of body-parts, hunting and disease.
The Western Lowland Gorilla has a short brownish-gray coat,
a red or reddish crest, is 5.5 ft. tall and weighs 400 lbs. This gorilla has a prominent brow ridge and small ears.
Western Lowland Gorillas eat fruits, bark, rotten wood,
leaves, small turtles, termites and ants.
The Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is a subspecies of the Western Lowland Gorilla. There are only 250 to 300 left in the wild. This is the most endangered ape.
Cross River Gorillas inhabit the tropical and subtropical mountainous region bordering Nigeria and Cameroon. Hunting, habitat destruction and logging are still potential dangers.
The Cross River Gorilla has the smallest skull of the Great
Apes. The molar and premolar teeth have the smallest surface area.
Scientific study of the Central Lowland Gorilla began in the early 20th century. It was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in the 1980s.
In October 1902 Captain von Beringe spotted Mountain
Gorillas during an expedition on the Virunga Volcanoes. He shot and killed 2 ‘specimens’. One of the gorillas was sent to the Zoological Museum in Berlin. Professor Paul Matschie declared the specimen a new species of gorilla.
The Bush Meat Trade is the capturing, slaughtering and
selling of Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Bonobos. Monkeys and wildlife are also included however the aforementioned Great Apes are taking the biggest toll. The word ‘Bush’ is a description of the African forest.
Bush meat is easier to transport than identifiable items such as ivory. Methods of killing include shooting, trapping, hacking, beating, or capture and later slaughter.
Many of the ape killers are rag-tag soldiers. The logging industry is notorious for supporting these ‘soldiers’. No wonder the bush meat trade rakes in over 2 billion dollars for those involved. The low-levels get scraps.
Bush meat is considered a luxury food item in fancy African
restaurants located in or near affected areas. Bush meat plates are expensive, indeed. This is the foie gras of Africa.
Poor rural hungry Africans in or near the bush meat trade are involved in this lucrative business. They are desperate for money. Poor people in the affected areas also eat bush meat.
Eating infected bush meat can result in HIV/AIDS, Ebola and
other dangerous diseases. Hunters, cooks and others touch and handle the meat. Shockingly, the work is usually done bare-handed. An estimated 8000 endangered Great Apes are killed annually in the bush meat trade.
Body-parts such as a gorilla hand can be sold as an
The Great Ape entertainment industry is rife with animal cruelty, abuse, humiliation, and killing. Many baby apes are brutally snatched from their mothers in their natural habitats and then transported to the entertainment industry trainers.
Babies are also snatched and sent to zoos.
Baby ape snatching often includes the killing of the
mother, family and other members in the group. Men armed with machine guns, machetes, and other ‘human weapons’ do what they must to get the prize. Silverbacks and mothers often fight to the death.
The act, transport and new locale for the baby ape is very traumatic; transport involves being caged or boxed in, little or no food or water, little to no veterinary medical care, heat and no love. The destinations are usually far off.
Apes have been used in movies, television, circuses,
casinos, bars, commercials and grand opening at malls, roadside menageries, fairs, psychological experiments, as test pilots and crash test dummies, astronauts, photo ops and surrogate family members. Photo ops using chimpanzees have virtually disappeared from Spain; at least for the time being.
Primate experimentation predominately includes Chimpanzees, Rhesus Macaques, Baboons and Marmosets. 60 to 70 thousand individuals are used in primate experiments every year in the United States and European Union combined. This statistic does not include repetitive experiments done on the same individual.
Experiments may include toxicology tests, chemical testing, neurological tests, infectious diseases tests, psychological tests, genetics tests, reproduction and xenotransplantation.
Many primates are specific purpose bred, meaning they are born and raised in the facility having never lived in their natural habitat or a normal life. Others are snatched from their habitats, purchased from zoos, circuses or roadside menageries, or animal trainers.
Chimpanzees are easier to handle when young, but as they grow older their incredible strength and wild nature becomes a serious problem.
Training of circus animals is often brutal. Regardless of training method, the animal’s spirit must be broken. It must be forced to perform humiliating, unnatural and sometimes painful acts to be performed on cue.
What happens behind closed doors may include beatings,
prodding, intimidation, poking and jabbing, whipping, tight collars, shackles (used primarily on elephants), shouting, fear and the deprivation of food and water. The animal trainer must be the ‘emperor’ in the relationship.
With excessive travel, training and hard work, there’s also
incredible boredom. When not performing or travelling animals must be caged, boxed in or shackled in trucks or trailers.
Veterinary medical care costs money and this is why we often hear stories of circus animals being sick or dying prematurely.
When the animal becomes too old to perform it is
Adult Great Apes are incredibly powerful. They can destroy any man or woman quite quickly, if given the chance.
In February of 2009 a 200 pound chimpanzee former actor named Travis brutally mauled and almost killed a Stamford, Connecticut woman. Travis was on Xanax.
The victim, Charla Nash aged 55, lost chunks of her hands, had her face literally ripped off (lost her nose, jaw and both eyes) and suffered major head trauma. The psychological trauma 9
she endured is immeasurable. Thankfully, she recently received a face transplant.
In this incident, Charla Nash was visiting her friend
Sandra Herold, who was Travis’ owner. The attack appeared to be without provocation, it was a Blitzkrieg.
Travis was stabbed several times with a butcher knife but had to be shot by a police officer to be killed.
In March of 2005 another chimpanzee attack occurred at the Animal Haven Ranch, a private sanctuary located in the hills of eastern Kern County, California. LaDonna Davis 61 years-old had her thumb bitten off. Compared to her husband, she was lucky.
James Davis was brutally mauled by two chimpanzees, Ollie,
13 years-old, and Buddy 15 years-old. Davis lost all of his fingers, an eye, part of his nose and part of his buttocks, cheek and lips. In addition, one of his feet was mutilated and he received a heel bone injury.
Chimpanzee’s 39th birthday at a sanctuary. Moe had been sent to the sanctuary after biting a woman.
The Davis couple referred to Moe as their child. He was taught how to dress, shower and enjoyed watching television.
When the attack occurred the Davis couple were getting ready to cut the birthday cake.
Four chimps were able to leave their cages. Two of the chimps charged their target, the Davis couple.
Chimpanzees in the wild are usually apprehensive of humans.
Chimpanzees don’t understand how powerful and dangerous they are until we bring them into our domain.
Chimps have been known to bite off fingers from behind cage
bars. That’s why anyone, especially a stranger should be very careful about inserting any part of his/her body within reach of a chimpanzee that’s behind bars.
The entertainment industry dumps Chimpanzees between the
age of 4 and 6 depending on the individual. This is the period of time of increased growth and strength.
Great apes have massive bone structure and musculature. In addition, they possess a strong muscle chemical.
There are reported cases of women being raped by orangutans. A woman in her period is at greater risk. Some male orang-utans become sexually aroused by the ‘woman scent’. A male orang-utan is strong enough to easily carry the woman with one hand and climb a tree, or to throw the woman on the ground, rip her clothing off and do his thing. Self-Defence for women is intended to ward off a human-male-attacker, not a powerful primate.
In the wild orang-utans are evasive and difficult to see.
If you plan on working with or near potentially dangerous animals do your research beforehand.
Chimpanzees (Pan Troglogytes) are genetically closely
related to humans. They share 98.5 percent of our genetic material.
Chimpanzees are found in tropical forests, open savannah woodlands, rainforests and grasslands within Central, Eastern and Western Africa. Chimpanzees are endangered.
At the turn of the 20th century there was 1 to 2 million chimpanzees in the wild. Today there are 100,000 to 150,000
chimpanzees in the wild.
encroachment, unregulated hunting, poaching and the Bush meat trade are lingering problems.
Chimpanzees once inhabited 25 African countries. Today,
healthy chimpanzee populations occur in only 6 countries.
Of the four Great Ape species chimpanzees are the most sought after in by the entertainment industry, as pets, and zoos.
Many chimpanzees used in circuses or brought into private homes have their canines yanked out, often without anaesthesia.
Without canines a chimpanzee can never be returned to the wild.
Without canines a chimpanzee is defenceless in the wild.
Furthermore, it will not have the social skills do so. Re-introduction and re-integration programs are costly and take much time and effort.
Many zoos are dilapidated and not accredited by the
A zoo chimpanzee named Gregoire (1942-2008) was caged up inside a tiny, filthy cement-floored barren cage at the Brazzaville Zoo, Congo for 45 years (1945-1990).
When Gregoire was discovered by Dr. Goodall he was
emaciated, almost hairless and sickly. Immediately, he stuck out his hand hoping for a tiny morsel. He had cataracts and was certainly under immense stress.
Thankfully, Gregoire was rescued, transferred and lived the rest of his life surrounded by love, food and security.
But there are primates languishing in hell-holes around the
world. Many others have died in them.
Great Apes are frequently tossed away when no longer
needed, just like the millions of cats and dogs in our animal shelters. Animal shelters are unprepared to house primates.
Some biomedical labs are more than willing to purchase
primates for use in experiments. It’s a big business.
Chimpanzees can be noisy and boisterous. They are good tree
climbers; much of their feeding and sleeping is done in trees.
Their arms are longer than their legs. Their senses are similar to ours, can briefly walk on 2 legs and have opposable thumbs on their hands and feet. They are covered with hair except on the face, ears, fingers and toes.
Male Chimpanzees weigh 85 to 125 lbs. Unusually large males
can reach 200 lbs.
Chimpanzees eat fruits, leaves, buds, blossoms, insects,
seeds, tree bark, ants, termites, small antelope, Red Colobus Monkeys and young Baboons.
Chimpanzees in captivity are able to learn ASL (American Sign Language). In the wild they are able to use sticks to ward off predators. They can also use stick to pull out termites from mounds.
Chimpanzees chew leaves then dip them into water to be sucked on.
-Adequate space for sleep and rest.
-Provide enrichment activities and objects to pre-occupy
the chimpanzees. They can move around and use their minds.
-The enclosure should resemble the natural habitat.
-Food should be plentiful, identical or similar to what is eaten in the wild. Food that is too different may cause medical problems.
-Proper veterinary medical care and medication.
-Zoo workers should keep a keen eye for unnatural
behaviours; mental distress, rocking, self-biting, excessive self-grooming which results in unnatural skin patches.
-Spitting, throwing feces, excessive aggression, prolonged apathy or depression, unnatural weight gain, diarrhoea, etc.
Diagnosis must always be done by a licensed veterinarian with specialization in the affected species.
-Anti-escape enclosure are a necessity; protection of zoo patrons, workers and other animals.
-A workable plan for the unexpected: what to do in case of an escape or an attack upon a person or animal within the enclosure.
-Enclosures that are cement based, bare and tiny are a no-no for Great Apes.
-How to effectively/humanely deal with surplus animals.
-Purchasing primates from a credible source.
-Endangered species; re-introduction programs.
-A kill policy, under what circumstances?
-Laws must be obeyed.
-Profit making and funding.
-Temperature control of enclosures.
Outdoor enclosures can include the following:
-Trees and strong branches.
-Stones and rocks.
-Shallow and wide body of water.
-Plenty of primate safe toys.
-Food hidden in objects requiring thinking and hand
manipulation to remove.
-A place to rest.
Indoor Enclosure can include:
-Trees and strong branches.
-Other plant life simulating a forest environment.
-Low-level and slow moving swings.
-Safety (must be non-breakable and bendable) Mirrors.
-Food hidden in objects requiring thinking and hand
-A place to rest.
There are people around the world who strive to better the lives of primates.
Dr. Jane Goodall (Chimpanzees), Dr. Dian Fossey (Mountain Gorillas), Dr. Beruti Galdikas (Orangutans) and Dr. Frans B.M.
de Waal are prominent names in the field of Primatology.
Dr. Fossey was murdered by a machete-wielding killer in 1985, striking her twice in the face and head while she was sound asleep.
Dr. Goodall, Dr. Fossey and Dr. Galdikas were mentored by world renowned Dr. Louis S.B. Leakey, an archaeologist and naturalist.
Dr. Goodall is a world renowned primatologist dealing
primarily with Chimpanzees. She is the UN Messenger of Peace.
She is also an environmentalist, ethologist, anthropologist and general animal welfare activist.
Dr. Goodall was born in London, England on April 3, 1934.
She began her work with chimpanzees in 1960 in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. In the beginning, the Kasakela chimpanzees were evasive, not habituated to humans. But her patience and persistence eventually paid off. Today, she travels much giving lectures.
Dr. Goodall founded The Jane Goodall Institute in 1977, an international non-profit organization that empowers individuals to help all living things. The mission of the Jane Goodall Institute consists of the following:
-Improve global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, public education and advocacy.
-Contribute to the preservation of great apes and their habitats by combining conservation with education and promotion of sustainable livelihoods in local communities.
-Create a worldwide network of young people who have
learned to care deeply for their human community, for all animals and for the environment, and who will take responsible action to care for them.
The Core Values of the JGI are the following:
-We strive to respect, nourish and protect all living
things; people, animals and the environment are all inter-connected.
-We believe that knowledge leads to understanding, and that
understanding will encourage us to take action.
-We believe that every individual has the ability to make a
-We believe that flexibility and open-mindedness are
essential to enable us to respond to a changing world.
-We require integrity and compassion in all that we do and say.
Dr. Goodall studied chimpanzees with a keen eye, in great detail
appeared to be their emotions. She even named the chimpanzees.
This was a revolutionary move in the early 1960s. At the time, primates assigned numbers to prevent strong emotional attachment 14
to the ‘subjects’. In reality, naming animals has proven to be a remarkable act.
Dr. Frans de Waal was born on October 29, 1948 in the Netherlands. His training included zoology and ethology. He received his PhD. in Biology from the University of Utrecht in 1977.
Dr. de Waal is the Director of the Living Links Center, Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behaviour at Emory University, Department of Psychology.
Dr. de Waal has written about aggressive behaviour and
alliance formation in macaques. It was done through his dissertation research.
In 1975, Dr. de Waal initiated a six-year project on the world’s largest captive colony of chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo.
In addition, he has written extensively about Bonobos and Monkeys.
Bonobos (Pan Paniscus) were once commonly referred to as Pygmy Chimpanzees. Bonobos are closely related to Chimpanzees but are shorter, smaller framed and thinner. They are better climbers and spend more time in trees. In addition they have longer limbs, pinker lips, dark hair and face, have a tail tuft and the hair on their head is long and parted. Bonobos are only slightly in weight than chimpanzees. Bonobos are less aggressive than Chimpanzees.
Bonobo center of gravity is lower than that of Chimpanzees.
This key feature enables Bonobos to stand more erect and walk for more like a human. Bonobos and Chimpanzees share about 98.5
percent of our genetic material.
Bonobos live in the remote lowland rainforests of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, south of the Congo River.
Chimpanzees live north of the Congo River.
Because of their remote habitat Bonobos were the last Great
Ape to be discovered. Ernst Schwarz, a German anatomist is given credit for discovering Bonobos in 1928.
It was the American anatomist Harold Coolidge who elevated Bonobos to species status.
Bonobo diet consists of fruits, leaves, roots, seeds,
flowers, mushrooms, bark and insects. They hunt animals and fish on occasion.
Bonobo society is matriarchal. Females generally form
powerful alliances that can ward off a stronger male through bellicose behaviour or outright aggression, but the latter is less common.
If you’re a male like me, you’re probably wondering why these guys don’t fight back more ferociously. Bonobo society is hypersexual. Conflicts are often alleviated through sexual acts.
Even the young display sexual behaviours.
Lesbianism and homosexuality, especially lesbianism occurs often. Genital rubbing and contact is used as an appeasement in times of group stress.
Bonobos are endangered. Their small habitat makes only
aggravates the problem. Human encroachment, habitat destruction and Bush meat are big problems. There are an estimated 10,000
Bonobos left in the wild.
There are 2 orang-utan subspecies, the Borneo Orang-utan (Pygmaeus), and the Sumatran Orang-utan (Abelii). Orang-utans live in Borneo and Sumatra. These are islands in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The word Orang-utan is Malay for ‘person’ or man of the forest.
Orangutans are the largest arboreal animals, spending about 90 percent of their time in tree tops. Their arms are long.
Large males have an arm span of 7 feet.
When orang-utans walk their arms nearly touch the ground.
They are very proficient tree swinging apes, grasping vines and branches with four of their fingers. Their thumbs are located lower on their hand than apes. They can wade in water, but cannot swim.
Sexual dimorphism is apparent, males stand at 5 ft. They weigh up to 250 lbs. females weigh 85 to 120 lbs.
Orangutans have thick bones, prominent head, massive neck, short legs and opposable thumbs on their hands and feet. The hair is rusty orange or reddish brown (the Sumatran Orang-utan’s coat is lighter than the Borneo counterpart).
Males of both species have cheek pads. However, Bornean males have considerably larger cheek pads and a prominent laryngeal sack. Bornean males have a square-shaped face.
Sumatran males have a diamond-shaped face with less
prominent cheek pads and laryngeal sack.
At the turn of the 20th century there were over 300,000
Orang-utans in the wild. They have been devastated by habitat destruction (timber industry, palm oil plantations) hunting, and the sale of Orang-utans (mostly babies).
Baby Orang-utans (up to five individuals) are smothered
together in tiny, filthy crates or cages. Ventilation, proper food, water, rest and medication are not given. Money is the key factor.
Over 90 percent of the estimated 300,000 plus Orangutans have been lost. In fact, between 1993 and 2000 Northern Sumatra lost roughly 50 percent of its Orangutan population. Between 1950 and 2000 roughly 40 percent of Indonesia’s forests were eradicated. Any kind of a clearing or roadway into the forest has serious and potentially devastating consequences for Orangutan populations.
In the early years of the 21st century Taiwan was a hot spot
for Orang-utan shipments. Laws are only as good as their enforcement.
Dr. Birute’ Galdikas was born 1946 in Wiesbaden, Germany, but
conservationist, ethologist and anthropologist. She is world renown for her work in the field of Primatology, in particular her work with Orangutans. Academically, she studied zoology, psychology and anthropology.
International in 1986. OFI is a non-profit organization deeply committed to the conservation of Orangutans and their rainforest habitat. In addition, Camp Leakey, located within
Tanjung Puting National Park is an Orang-utan research center.
The Orang-utan Foundation International runs The Orang-utan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) situated in the Dayak Village.
Dayaks are the Native Inhabitants of Borneo. Currently, there are 330 orang-utans therein.
The OCCQ helps to direct The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve), a place where wild born ex-captive Orangutans are released into the wild.
The OFI works with World Education and the Orang-utan
Conservation Forum whose top five issues are:
-Stopping illegal logging, mining and forest conversion
communities surrounding critical orang-utan habitat.
-Assuring sustained funding for long-term in-situ Orang-
utan research vital for effective conservation efforts.
-Educating the local public to understand orang-utan and forest issues and take pride in orang-utans and their forests.
-Releasing ex-captive orang-utans into suitable, protected habitat.
Dr. Galdikas has worked diligently in some very harsh
environments studying Orangutans. She promotes their rights and the protection of their habitats.
There are 9 species of Gibbons living in the subtropical rainforests of South, Southeast, and East Asia. All Gibbons belong to the family Hylobatidae.
Gibbons species including the Siamang Gibbon are Lesser
Cambodia, Laos, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mayanmar (formerly Burma) and Vietnam.
The Lesser Apes are endangered and their populations are shrinking as a result of deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, 17
poaching and the use of their body-parts for traditional medicine.
Gibbons have an incredible vocal display reaching up to 2
miles in the dense forests. The displays are used for attracting the opposite sex and to ward off potential intruders.
Unfortunately, their vocal displays have made them easy
targets for poachers and illegal wildlife traders. All’s not bad through. Scientists too are able to find gibbons easily.
Gibbons are smaller and lighter than Great Apes. Gibbons weigh 10-20 lbs. and in some species females are larger than males.
Gibbons’ senses are similar to ours. Gibbons are incredible
brachiators, (tree swingers), are arboreal and are proficient leapers. They have flat faces, a large braincase, opposable thumbs, no tails, full shoulder rotation, monogamous, and their coat is dense and fluffy. Their heads are small and round.
Gibbons have wrists comprised of a ball and socket bone.
This allows for biaxial movement which allows for less energy usage in the arms, torso and shoulders when brachiating.
Although Gibbons are able to walk on two legs they must keep their arms raised to prevent them from dragging on the ground, because their arms are considerably longer than their legs and their bodies are short. The raising of their arms also helps in maintaining balance.
The Siamang (SG) (Symphalangus syndactylus) is tail-less, arboreal, long-armed, incredibly acrobatic, the loudest of all Gibbon species, and despite its small stature (roughly 3 ft.
Long and 15 lbs.), is about twice the size of the average Gibbon. Furthermore, the Siamang is black coloured with reddish brown eyebrows. Males are slightly larger than females.
Siamangs are monogamous. Females give birth to a single infant following a gestation period of 8 months. Birth is every 2 or 3 years. In the wild individuals live 25 to 30 years. They live longer in captivity.
Siamangs possess opposable thumbs on their hands and feet, enabling them to grasp with either of the two. Siamangs’ first 2
digits on their feet are attached by a membrane. The inflatable throat sac makes Siamangs the loudest singers and hooters amongst Gibbon species, reaching up to 2 miles in the thick forest cover. The throat sac can inflate to the size of the Gibbon’s head.
Siamangs eat ripe fruits, young leaves, flowers, insects, birds, eggs, small animals and nuts.
Siamang numbers are declining rapidly; they are endangered.
Dangers include habitat destruction, palm oil plantations, illegal logging and human encroachment, hunting and poaching.
Siamangs are found in forested areas in Malaysia, Thailand and Sumatra.
Monkeys are members of 2 of the 3 groupings of Simian Primates; New World Monkeys (Parvorder Platyrrhini), Old World Monkeys (Catarrhini) and Apes. There are 264 identified, living Monkey species.
New World Monkeys inhabit areas in Mexico, Central America and South America. Old World Monkeys inhabit areas in Africa, Gibraltar, Middle East (limited), Japan and India, and across Asia. Old World Monkeys can be found in tropical rainforests, arid grasslands, mountainous areas, snowy areas (Japan) or in urban areas in India.
Apes, Monkeys and Prosimians belong to the Order Primates.
Monkeys are not apes or Prosimians.
The following are important distinctions between Old World
Monkeys and New World Monkeys:
-New World Monkeys have flat noses (Platyrrhines) with
nostrils set far apart (by a Septum). Old World Monkeys have downward-facing noses with nostrils set closer together.
-New World Monkeys have long prehensile tails used for
clinging and balancing (when atop trees); they’re more arboreal than their old world counterparts. Old World Monkeys’ tails are not designed for any of the aforementioned uses.
-New World Monkeys have thumbs that are aligned with the other fingers and some species have may have a nail on the big toe only. Old World Monkeys have more opposable thumbs and have nails on their toes and fingers.
-No New World Monkey species have pouches in their mouths.
Some Old World Monkey species do.
-New World Monkey males are more involved in the caring and
upbringing of offspring.
-Some Old World Monkeys have ‘sitting pads’ designed for sitting. No New World Monkeys have these pads.
-New World Monkeys have 3 premolars Old World Monkeys only have 2.
Read the precautions below if you are planning to purchase a monkey and bring it into your home:
-Primates including monkeys are not domesticated animals.
-They’re wild animals at heart and are unpredictable in their behaviour as such.
-It takes much sustained work to properly care for a
-Like other primates as soon as a monkey reaches adulthood it may be quite difficult to handle. It will no longer be the
‘little child’ that you once knew.