Primates

There are 479 known species of primate. They are incredibly diverse, both from a morphological and behavioural point of view and in terms of habitat, social organization, diet, breeding and even communication. The Zoo de La Palmyre houses about 30 primate species, from the largest (gorilla) to the smallest (pigmy marmoset), via the playful (capuchin) and one of the most rare (Roloway’s monkey).

Gorilla (Africa)


This is one of the most impressive primates, with males sometimes weighing more than 200kg. Newborns weigh 100 times less: barely 1.5kg!
There are 4 known sub-species, with the mountain gorilla the most famous due to Dian Fossey’s studies. Zoos house western lowland gorillas. Highly endangered in the wild, these are the subject of a European Breeding Program.

Pied tamarin (Brazil)


This is one of the Amazon Basin’s most endangered primates because it only lives around Manaus, a rapidly expanding city of more than 1.5 million inhabitants.
Uniquely among primates, female marmosets and tamarins do not bring up their young by themselves: other members of the group carry and take care of them, giving them back to the mother for breastfeeding.

Roloway’s monkey (Africa)


On the Ivory Coast, Roloway’s monkeys only survive in one forest but it is impossible to estimate their numbers because they are rarely seen. They are endangered through being hunted for the bush-meat trade and through the destruction of their habitat.

Bornean orangutan (Malaysia)


Palm oil plantations are gradually replacing the Malay tropical forest. Orangutans rarely descend to ground level and are entirely dependent on the forest to feed (they consume more than 300 different foods!), to raise their young and for the nests where they spend the night. The disappearance of the forest is leading to the fragmentation of populations and genetic isolation, which are highly problematic for the species’ long-term survival.

Blue-eyed lemur (Madagascar)


Madagascar is a priority area for primate conservation. This is the country with the greatest diversity of species after Brazil, and 100% of the primates living on the ‘Red Island’ are endemic – which means they don’t live anywhere else. Blue-eyed lemurs are among the world’s 25 most endangered species. The European Breeding Program includes only 33 blue-eyed lemurs in 11 zoos. There have been only 9 births since 2000.