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Fast Facts:

  • There are approximately 10 subspecies of Cebus apella, including Cebus apella apella, the brown tufted capuchin like those found at Rolling Hills Zoo.

  • These South American primates are named for the tufts of hair on each side of their head.

Brown-Tufted Capuchin

Scientific Name: Cebus apella
Classification: Phylum Chordata; Class Mammalia; Order Primates; Family Cebidae; Subfamily Cebinae
Range: Tufted capuchins have the largest range of any New World monkey. They are found in several countries in northern & central South America
Habitat: Rain forests
Diet: In the wild, fruit is the primary component of the tufted capuchin's diet. The animal  also eats seeds, nectar, pith, insects, small reptiles, birds, eggs, bats and other small mammals.
Size: The average head and body length for adults is 18 inches, with a tail of approximately equal length. They weigh between 2.2 and 4 pounds.
Life Span: 35-45 years in captivity
Print Fact Sheet Capuchin

Social Organization and Behavior:

In the wild, capuchins are diurnal (active during the day) and arboreal (tree-dwelling). They are social animals and live in groups of 5-15 members. Each troop usually has a dominant, or alpha, male.

Capuchins communicate with one another through a wide variety of vocalizations and facial expressions. In addition, tufted capuchins often will wash their hands and feet in urine and cover their fur with the urine scent. This behavior is believed to be important in olfactory communication.

Capuchins are intelligent, curious animals. In captivity, they have been observed to use tools to obtain food.

Breeding & Care of Young:

Gestation lasts from 150 to 160 days, and birth seasons occur between October and January. The mother generally will give birth to one offspring. A newborn capuchin will cling to the mother's back or shoulders for approximately the first 3 months of life.

By 6 months of age, young tufted capuchins are more independent and have started eating solid foods. However, they still rely on their mothers for some milk and for security during threatening situations. Young are fully weaned at approximately 12 months of age.

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