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White-faced Saki Monkey


Quick Facts

Scientific name: Pithecia pithecia
Class: Mammal
Length: 11 to 19 inches (28 to 48 centimeters)
Tail length: 10 to 22 inches (25 to 56 centimeters)
Weight: 3 to 4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg)
Life span: up to 15 years in the wild, 35 years in captivity
Gestation: 163 to 167 days
Number of offspring: 1 at a time
Conservation status: Vulnerable


Living in the rain

Saki monkeys live in the tropical rain forest regions of southern and eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and northeastern Brazil in South America.

A saki supper

These monkeys eat fruit, leaves, flowers, small mammals and small birds. At the zoo, you’ll see them eating a commercial primate biscuit, canned primate food, vegetables, fruit, nuts, cottage cheese and yogurt.

So they have white faces…and?

Actually, only males have white faces, while females have dark faces. Their fur is thick, coarse, shaggy, and long which protects them from the weather in the rain forest. They do not have prehensile (grasping) tails. Their nose is flask-shaped with widely separated nostrils. Their lower front teeth are specialized for opening nuts and tough fruits in order to obtain the large nutritious seeds hidden within. This allows them to eat unripe fruit not palatable to most primates. Their legs are much longer than their arms, which helps them leap between branches, as far as 30 feet!

Saki society

Saki monkeys are usually seen alone or in pairs. They often live in groups of up to twelve. They are diurnal (active during the day). Sakis stay in the canopy of the rain forest most of the time and rarely come to the ground, except to feed at the shrub layer. At night they sleep coiled on branches.

Bringing up baby

Females have one young at a time. They usually give birth in late November or December. Infants cling to the mother’s belly, then later they cling to the back. Born with brown fur, at two months old the males begin changing color to black with white faces, but the females stay brown. After six months, the young are independent.

Don’t make them angry!

If saki monkeys are threatened, they fluff up and shake their body hair. Then they stomp their feet with their backs arched.


Learn more about our efforts, our conservation partners around the world, and the simple steps you can take to contribute.