Robust Black Spider Monkey

[Ateles fusciceps robustus]

Robust black spider monkey males and females are about the same size and weigh 17 to 19 pounds. The tail is prehensile, long, and extremely flexible. The naked skin on the lower third of the tail is specialized, bearing “fingerprints," sweat glands, and sensory nerve endings, as in the hand.

Location: Animals Formerly at Zoo



The range of the robust black spider monkey is Southern Mexico to central Bolivia and Brazil.


The robust black spider monkey inhabits tropical and mountain forests.

Conservation Status
Primary Threats
Human Wildlife Coexistence

226-232 days




Robust black spider monkeys are entirely diurnal, and feed intensively in the early morning, then rest for most of the remainder of the day. They are arboreal, and probably only the gibbon exceeds this animal in agility in the trees. Their slender limbs give them diverse locomotor abilities. During travel they use both arboreal quadrapedalism and suspensory brachiation. They move bipedally in trees and can leap. During feeding they almost always hang by their tails and use all four limbs to seize and open fruit. Their social structure is like that of chimpanzees. Groups are generally large, comprising a dozen or so individuals of both sexes and all ages. During feeding the large group breaks up into smaller ones that call to one another for cohesion. Spider monkeys share their food with one another, an unusual behavior. Only rarely do they descend to the ground. When approached in the wild, they sometimes break off dead branches and drop them, attempting to hit the ground observer. They also emit terrier-like barks when approached. The most frequently heard call resembles the whinny of a horse, and is made when monkeys are separated. They will defend their territory, but prefer to make a discrete retreat.


In robust black spider monkeys there appears to be no regular breeding season. The estrous cycle is 24 – 27 days, and gestation 226 to 232 days. Normal litter size is one. Sexual maturity is achieved in males at about 5 years, and in females at about 4 years. There is no sexual dimorphism in body size.

Wild Diet

Fruits, nuts, seeds, buds, flowers, leaves, insects, arachnids, eggs

Zoo Diet

Monkey chow, yams, fruit, endive, sunflower seeds



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