Area of zoo
Enclosure status
Open
IUCN status
Vulnerable
Scientific name
Ateles paniscus
Order
Primates
Type
Mammals
Family
Atelidae
Region
South America
Habitat
Rainforest canopy

Spider monkey facts

  • Spider monkeys are super agile, and have a prehensile tail which can grip onto branches. This gives them an extra limb to hang onto a branch as they swing through the trees in the forests of northern South America. They have a patch of skin on their tail, almost like a palm, which helps them to grip so effectively, so it really is like a fifth hand! 
  • Spider monkeys get their name from their long arms, legs and tail, which in proportion with their small head makes them appear spiderlike.
  • These monkeys can live in large groups of 20-30 individuals with subgroups of two to three.
  • Spider monkeys communicate with each other in these large groups by screaming, whistling, barking and grunting, scratching their chests and shaking trees, nodding their head and swinging their arms.
  • Spider monkeys gather food in smaller subgroups of up to three monkeys feeding for the first and last two hours of their waking day.
  • They remember past relationships with other spider monkeys by licking each other’s chests.
  • Spider monkeys live up to 40 years

See them at London Zoo's Rainforest Life

Two red-faced spider monkeys at London Zoo

What do spider monkeys eat?

Fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves and insects

Where do spider monkeys live? 

Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana and Brazil

Our spider monkeys

Cher, who celebrated the big 30 on 23 June 2021, lives with her partner Branco and son Sonny. You can tell our tree-loving trio apart as Cher has the lightest eyes (almost blue-grey), and quite a pronounced forward-swept fringe, like a member of a 90’s boyband! Branco has a very red face and a slightly turned inward right eye. He is more thoughtful and has quite an intense gaze with dark eyes. Sonny, on the other hand, has a large pink ‘open’ face, and can often be seen marching about or causing trouble.

While Cher can sometimes be a little bit shy, she is quietly clever and is often the first to investigate and figure out different enrichments, and she loves her food which can be quite motivating! Her favourite foods are eggs, peanut butter, avocado and steamed sweet potato. Sonny is known to try and steal his parents' food, but keepers only need to give Cher a glance and a nod and she knows to quickly nip round a corner where they can safely sneak her some treats away from Sonny’s rampaging!

Spider monkey threats

Forest destruction and hunting

Want to experience rainforest life?

A place in London like no other, with trees filled with monkeys, snoozing sloths and bats flying overhead! Be transported to the Amazon rainforest and find out why it's one our most popular spots!

Primates at the Zoo

  • Alika the gorilla at Gorilla Kingdom London Zoo
    Our western lowland gorilla troop

    Gorilla kingdom

    Our 193kg western lowland gorilla silverback Kiburi and the rest of the gorilla troop.

  • Eastern black-and-white colobus monkeyswinging in trees at London Zoo
    Soar with the monkeys

    Monkey Valley

    Step into Monkey Valley and experience our troop of gravity-defying, 'high-flying' colobus monkeys leaping, lounging, swinging, and snoozing, in their new tree-top inspired habitat.

  • Three squirrel monkeys standing on a rope and eating corn at London Zoo
    Our squirrel monkeys

    Squirrel monkeys

    Meet the cheekiest monkeys in London, and watch them leap, munch and forage amidst the trees.

  • White-naped mangabey at London Zoo
    Cercocebus lunulatus

    White-naped mangabey

    In the wild they are in real trouble, but our mangabeys are a part of a successful European breeding programme.

  • A close up image of a Hanuman Langur's face at London Zoo
    Semnopithecus entellus

    Hanuman Langur

    Named after the Hindu God Hanuman, the deity of healing and worship, who is often depicted as part-man, part-monkey.

  • Celebes crested macaque at London Zoo
    Macaca nigra

    Celebes crested macaque

    The Celebes crested macaque is mainly under threat because of hunting, in Indonesia they are sometimes eaten at Christmas dinner.