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Their name already gives away how they look: the top of the heads of red-capped mangabeys is red. Additionally they have bright white eyelids, that stand out in their black faces. That is why they are sometimes called ‘the monkey with the four eyes’. Red-capped mangabeys have a light grey coats and a very long tail with a bright white tuft at the end. They often keep their tails raised above their heads.
Red-capped mangabeys live in West- and Central Africa, in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. They live in tropical rain-, swamp- and mangrove-forests.
Red-capped mangabeys live in groups of 10-20 animals. One adult male is in charge. Both males and females have a clear hierarchy. They use their white eye-lids for social communication by blinking towards each other.
In the wild red-capped mangabeys often split up the group to explore and search for food. At the end of the day they come back together. This is called ‘fission-fusion’. During the day, the red-capped mangabeys stay in contact with each other through sounds and contact calls.
At the age of three, female red-capped mangabeys become fertile. For the males this is quite obvious: the females get large, pink genital swellings. The pregnancy period for this species is 5,5 months. When males in the group are three years of age they will emigrate from their natal group. Female offspring will stay in their natal groups. The males will join and immigrate into another group. There, they have to have to find their place in the social hierarchy.
Situation in the wild
In the wild, the red-capped mangabey population is threatened. Their habitats disappear because of deforestation and illegal hunting. Luckily, there are several protected nation parks where they live.
Since 2016, the red-capped mangabeys live at Apenheul. We started with a young group of four animals. In the meantime, the adult females all had one or several offspring and the group has increased in size. Apenheul is part of the EAZA Ex Situ breeding programme (EEP) for the red-capped mangabeys. Together with other zoos, we actively strive to maintain genetically healthy and demographically stable populations for this species in zoos.
- Red-capped mangebeys use their bright white eyelids to communicate with and impress each other: they do this by blinking their eyelids rapidly. A very special sight!
- Red-capped mangabeys have large cheekpouches. Very convenient and useful to store food there and eat this at a later time.