Colobus monkey

Scientific name:

Colobus guereza

Range and habitat:

Colobus monkeys are native to the forests and tropical jungles of central and eastern Africa.

Natural diet:


These monkeys eat leaves and leaf buds, plus fruits and blossoms.

Zoo diet:

Mostly vegetables, lettuce and monkey chow.

Size / weight range:

Colobus monkeys grow to 18 - 28 inches long, with tails that are 20 to 40 inches long. Males weigh between 19.8 and 31.9 pounds; females weigh between 14.3 and 22 pounds.

Social structure:

Usually one male and several females and their offspring. They live in groups up to around 9 individuals.

Life history:

Colobus monkeys mature at around 4 years old and live 25 - 30 years. Their gestation is about 6 months.

Interesting facts:

We have one male (Sefu- born in 2007) and 2 female Colobus monkeys (Asante- born in 2008, and Freefall- born in 1990).  Sefu and Asante are siblings, and Freefall is unrelated.  Asante was partially hand-reared after her mother died 2 months after she was born. Keepers worked closely with her to feed her, monitor her weight and socialize her. Luckily, we were able to put her back with her father and brothers fairly quickly. Her brothers took great care of her, carrying her around, snuggling with her and helping to socialize her with others of her species.

The humps on the tops of Colobus monkeys’ heads is just the way the hair grows; it’s not the shape of their skulls.

They have long, fluffy white tails and capes. This helps them balance when they are moving and jumping among trees (they are more likely to move by jumping and leaping, rather than swinging or climbing). The color and “ballooning” action of their capes is also intimidating to predators.

They have sacculated, or segmented, stomachs (similar to cows), which enable them to better digest the leaves and bark that they eat in the wild. This food is low in nutritional value, so they need to eat lots of it.

All primates have opposable thumbs, but the Colobus monkeys’ thumbs are very tiny (the word “colobus” means “docked” in Greek). They are not able to use them for grasping.

Newborn babies’ hair coat is all white; it darkens to the black-and-white adult pattern by about 6 months old.

The Colobus monkeys at the Toledo Zoo are part of a Species Survival Plan.

One way that Colobus monkeys communicate is by making a lip-smacking noise that sounds like us clicking our tongues.

Location at the Toledo Zoo:

Primate Forest
You may also see our Colobus monkeys on the Primate Cam by visiting our Animal Web Cams page!

Conservation status:

Vulnerable. These monkeys are hunted for their pelts as well as meat. Logging and agriculture are destroying their habitat.