Dig Deeper

Overview Taxonomy


“Where I live”

Black and White Colobus Monkeys live in all types of forest of equatorial Africa. You can see Colobus monkeys on exhibit at The Maryland Zoo in the Chimpanzee Forest.

“How I live there”

Colobus monkeys share the trees with each other and other species of monkey. Like all primates, they are highly social animals. They live in family groups composed of a dominant male, several females, and their young. Males leave their birth groups before they are fully mature, either by choice or by force, and live alone or in small bachelor groups. Some will eventually take over a harem of their own. Each group has its own territory in the tree canopy that is well defined and defended.

Colobus monkeys spend most of their time sitting in the treetops eating and socializing. They take turns sleeping at night so that one member of the troop is always awake and watching for predators. They are strictly leaf eaters. They move through the trees with ease. They swing easily and gracefully from branch to branch using their long, curled fingers. They also use branches as springboards to leap up and then drop down as much as fifty feet onto branches below. As they descend, their long fur and long tails have a parachute effect. As they jump from tree to tree, their tails provide balance.

“Making my mark”

Given how territorial colobus monkeys are, their presence in a forest can not be missed. Adult troop members, especially males, produce loud, throaty calls to alert other troops to territorial boundaries. They use other calls to convey other messages. Their calls can be heard throughout the forest.

“What eats me”

Black and white colobus monkeys have to worry most about leopards, although the crowned hawk eagle and occasionally chimpanzees may also prey on them.

Raising Young

A female colobus monkey usually announces that she is ready to mate by tongue smacking. Females give birth to a single offspring about every 20 months.


Black and white colobus monkeys are threatened by loss of forest habitat across equatorial Africa. They also are hunted for their meat and fur.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Primates
  • Family: Cercopithecidae
  • Genera: Colobus
  • Species: guereza