Red-Capped Mangabey

Red-Capped Mangabey

[ Cercocebus torquatus torquatas ]

Quick Facts

BODY LENGTH: 24 to 26 inches
TAIL LENGTH: 25 to 27 inches

up to 26.5 pounds

WILD DIET: mostly fruit, but also leaves, mushrooms, shoots, nuts, grubs, and insects
ZOO DIET: monkey chow, apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, peanuts, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, celery, lettuce, kale, spinach, parsley, romaine, and onion
DISTRIBUTION: Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabon
HABITAT: forest canopy


Eyes of the Forest

What does "mangabey" mean?
These medium-sized African monkeys are named "mangabey," after the port city of Mangabe in Madagascar, from which they were first shipped to Europe.

There is a great variety of coloration between mangabey populations. Most are gray-black to chestnut-brown, with white patches on the back of the head, under the chin, and at the tip of the tail. They also have expressive white eyebrows, which enhance facial displays. Mangabeys are very visual creatures, with a good sense of sight during the day and in the dim-light of dusk and dawn.

The "red-capped" part of the name comes from the hair on the top of their head, which is dark maroon-red (they’re also called "cherry-capped" and "white-collared" mangabeys). Red-capped mangabeys have a slender body, and males outweigh females by about 20%. Mangabeys also have a long tail, which plays a role in communication.

Troop dynamics
Communication is important in animals that live in groups—and a group of mangabeys is called a "troop." Mangabey troops have 14 to 37 individuals, but sometimes they break up into smaller subgroups for foraging. Red-capped mangabeys communicate using facial displays, body posturing, and tail position.

Their array of facial expressions are enhanced by exposing the white area above their eyes and using open-mouthed gestures. They also have a variety of vocalizations, including an extremely loud alarm call that is sounded if an enemy, such as a leopard or eagle, is sighted. Other vocalizations, like grunting, screaming, barking, and rumbling, are contact calls to keep the troop together, or else attraction calls that mean, "Hey, look at me!"

You look swell
Much like their baboon relatives, female red-capped mangabeys have sexual swellings on their rears that grow and deflate in approximately 30-day cycles. When the swellings are at their peak, they are a visual signal to males that now is the best chance for conception. After a gestation period of 175 days, a single baby (or, more rarely, twins) is born. The infant clings tightly to its mother’s belly for safety.

Forest jump
Although they’ve acquired their name from Madagascar, red-capped mangabeys live only on the African continent. In fact, their range is fairly limited, occupying mainly west and central Africa to the Congo Basin in central Africa. They live in trees and in the dense vegetation of swamps and gallery forests, as well as in primary and secondary forests at the edge of rivers. The common feature of mangabeys' preferred habitat is a closed canopy, which allows them to use their great jumping ability. They can leap great distances from branch to branch and tree to tree in their search for food.

Red-capped mangabeys at Brookfield Zoo
Check out Tropic World: Africa to find red-capped mangabeys. They share their exhibit with sooty mangabeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and mandrills. You can see red-capped mangabeys in the trees or on the ground.

Get Involved

Conservation Fund of the Chicago Zoological Society