Black and gold howler monkey
Competing with the white-handed gibbons and the red-ruffed lemurs for the title of noisiest species at Durrell’s Jersey headquarters, the black howler monkey is perhaps more accurately described as ‘black and gold’. Unusually for these leaf-eating monkeys from Central and South America, this species is sexually dimorphic – females are blonde, while males, although born the same pale gold colour, turn black as they mature.
Males are larger than females but both sexes produce the howler monkeys’ trademark roar, a territorial call that can carry across great distances. Like several other New World monkeys, howlers have prehensile tails that allow them to use their tail like a fifth limb, curling it tightly around branches as they move skilfully through their native forests. Their leafy diet is not particularly nutritious, so much of a howler’s day is spent resting.
This is the first time Durrell has worked with howler monkeys and we are gaining valuable experience: although black howlers are not currently at high risk of extinction, species in some of Durrell’s ‘TopSpots’, such as the red howler of the Andean cloud forests and the brown howler of Brazil’s Atlantic forest, are Critically Endangered.