Title - Primates Primates

Primate means 'those that are first in rank' - a name given by Carl Linnaeus in 1778, the Swedish father of scientific or Latin names for animals and plants.


Most primates are adapted for climbing in trees. They have an opposable thumb and a large first toe that enables them to grasp onto branches and objects. Their eyes face forward allowing them three dimensional vision -important for judging distances: vital when jumping from branch to branch. Most are day foraging animals and are able to identify and distinguish the ripeness of edible fruits; by colour.


People looking at monkeys

Macaques are a group of monkeys which sleep and find refuge up in the trees, but also spend a lot of time foraging on the ground for a wide variety of fallen fruits and small animals. They are true omnivores - meaning they eat both animal and vegetable foods.

The Sulawesi Crested Macaques are an endangered species being helped by many zoos including Thrigby.


Apes are most easily distinguished from monkeys by being tailless, (though Crested Macaques are an exception in not having tails too!). We have two kinds of gibbon termed 'lesser apes', so-called because they are smaller than the 'great ape' Gorillas, Orangutans and Chimpanzees.


Gibbons dominate the dawn chorus of Southeastern Asian rainforests with whoops and howls. They form enduring male and female partnerships. Each pair E call loudly in a 'duet', which proclaims I ownership of territory.

White-handed or Lar Gibbons (left), similarly I call and 'brachiate', arm under arm, from branch to branch. Though they may spend time on the ground here, they probably rarely do so in Southeast Asia. Young gibbons stay with their parents for several years and thus learn from their parents where and when seasonal fruits may be found.

Both gibbon species breed well here.