Black-capped Capuchin (Cebus apella)
Average lifespan in the wild: 25 years
Size: 32 to 57cm body length
Weight: 1.9 to 4.8kg
Conservation Status (IUCN): Least Concern
Black Capped Capuchins are native to Central and South America, they live in a wide range of habitats from coastal mangroves to rainforest. They are a specie of New World Monkey and are considered the most intelligent of all the New World Monkeys.
An arboreal and diurnal species that spends their day searching and foraging for food, will often have midday naps during the hottest part of the day. They are omnivorous eating a variety of fruits, seeds, nuts and small animals (insects, lizards, bird eggs, crustaceans). Black Capped Capuchins have a prehensile tail they can use to hang from branches when they are collecting fruit and nuts, the tail can act as a fifth limb and can support the monkeys entire body weight. They serve an important role in the wild, dispersing the fruit and seeds of a variety of rainforest plants.
Living in large groups of up to 40 individuals, consisting of related females and their offspring with one alpha male and a group of subordinate males. The alpha male has mating rights with all of the females though other males will mate when he is not around or looking. Like most primate species the Black-capped capuchin spend a lot of time mutually grooming each other to form strong relationships and remove dead skin or insects. Females breed every two years and have a gestation of around 6 months.
One of the few animal species outside of the great apes observed using and making tools. After watching macaw’s cracking and breaking palm nuts with their powerful beak, Black Capped Capuchins learnt to select ripe palm fruit, chew the stalk of the fruit and drink the juice inside then throw the remaining fruit to the ground. Once this discarded fruit has hardened they will collect a group of these dried fruits and find a stone and use these stones to crack the fruit open to get the nut inside. Capuchins will collect stones from rivers up to 1km and keep them as their tools for breaking fruit open, they will also use these stones to crack open shellfish and crab shells to feed on them.
During the wet season, Capuchins will crush up the leaves of certain tree’s and certain insect species to rub on their fur which acts as insect repellent against mosquito’s.
The smartest and most favoured monkey trained for TV and film work having been seen in many movies such as Indiana Jones, Outbreak and A Night at the Museum. Their high level of intelligence and dexterous hands make them ideal for conditioning and training for use in this industry.
Information courtesy of National Geographic presenter Ben Britton