Our Top Cheeky Monkeys (2024)

To get us through this frosty Thursday, and to and push us ever-closer to the weekend, we at The Great Projects have put together a fun list of some of our favourite monkeys. From silly simians to mysterious macaques, there's plenty to learn about our little friends!

Proboscis Monkey, Borneo

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To start things off, we have the Proboscis monkey of Borneo. Instantly recognisable due to their striking snozzes, the Proboscis is also known as the 'long nosed monkey', or the 'bekantan' in its native Indonesia. Coexisting in harmony with the Bornean orangutan, this monkey has a similar red coat and is actually one of the largest monkeys native to Asia. The Proboscis is quite a peaceful primate, feeding off of fruits and plants (with the occasional insect thrown in for good measure.) Unfortunately, their lives are becoming ever-turbulent due to the destruction of the rainforests, and the poor Proboscis is now classed as an endangered species with only 7,000 left in the wild.

Pygmy Marmoset, South America

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Next up, we have the peculiar pygmy marmoset. These miniature monkeys are native to South America, notably the western Amazon Basin. At just over 100 grams at full size, the pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey in the world, and second only to the Berthe's mouse lemur when it comes to the smallest primate. This marmoset also has some pretty freaky party tricks, such as being able to turn its head a full 180 degrees! Not thought to be at any real risk of extinction, the pygmy marmoset exists in extensive populations - this said, there is a definite issue with habitat loss and even illegal pet trade, with human interaction triggering quite severe personality changes such as a lack of social play and limited primal vocabulary.

Emperor Tamarin, South America

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Perhaps one of the most recognisable monkeys on the list is this little guy - the Emperor Tamarin! Coining its name from a striking resemblance to the mustachioed German emperor Willhelm II, the tamarin actually resides much further away in its native South America - take Peru, Bolivia and the Amazon, for example. Weighing in at around 500 grams and at a rough height of 10 inches, this (almost) pocket-sized pal makes it primary habitat in the lowlands of the rainforest. In the wild, these animals are observed as being very playful and friendly, and this type of behaviour extends somewhat to captivity where they are seen as confident and curious with human beings. In fact, they love to be petted by their caretakers - but this absolutely does not mean they will make ideal pets! The Emperor Tamarin is thankfully considered to be at a low risk of danger, but we as humans must ensure that they remain as wild and whimsical as they're born to be.

Red-Shanked Douc, Asia

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With its peachy skin and stunning almond eyes, Asia's red-shanked douc is one of the most unusually pretty monkeys on the list. Its doll-like appearance has actually earned this monkey the nickname of the 'costumed ape' - but make no mistake, this is in fact a monkey! This old-world monkey has, evidently, some particularly extravagant markings and features across its whole coat, from the white scruff around its face to the crimson 'stockings' it seems to wear on its legs. The douc (meaning 'monkey' in its native Vietnam) also resides in nearby Cambodia, Laos and China respectively and, like most primates, is noted as being incredibly social - in fact, they have been reported to hang out in groups as large as 50 strong! A messy and chaotic eater, the douc loves to chow down on fresh leaves and seeds, doing big burps as food breaks down in their pot bellies! Unfortunately, the red-shanked douc is on the list of endangered monkeys, and much must be done to protect them from international trade if we want their numbers to sustain.

Black-Headed Spider Monkey (South America)

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Found in both Central and South America, the black-headed spider monkey is a type of New World monkey, characterised by both its endemic location and features such as its flat nose. This type of monkey prefers a wholesome diet of fruit, leaves and seeds, but will at times consume insects and even eggs if necessary. They spend their time up in the trees and are impressive gymnasts, able to jump up to nine metres from branch to branch with supreme accuracy. Living in groups as large as 20, the black-headed spider monkeys prefer to travel in smaller sub-groups, with the males staying amongst their clan for life (females are much more independent!) Sadly, this is another species of monkey at severe risk of extinction, due to horrific habitat loss and even poaching.

Dusky Leaf Monkey (Malaysia)

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These curious critters are known as the dusky leaf monkey, and man are they cute. Found primarily in Malaysia but also in Thailand, the dusky leaf monkey has to be one of the sweetest natured primates on the planet - in fact, they are said to be one of the least aggressive animals on earth, preferring to focus on reconciliation in the instance of aggression within the group. The adorable way in which these monkeys apologise to each other after a tiff is actually by exhibiting what is known as 'ventro-ventro hugging', i.e bumping bellies and snuggling up close! In addition to this all-too sweet display of affection, dusty leaf monkeys love to groom one another and this paves the way for further relationship development. In terms of appearance, the adults of this breed have very distinctive pale rings around their otherwise dark faces, and are shrouded in a mass of soft black, white and grey fur. Conversely, baby dusky leaf monkeys have almost golden yellow skin, perhaps to give them more chance of blending into their surroundings.

Cotton-top Tamarin (Colombia)

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'What are you looking at?!' This cheeky chappy is known as a cotton-top tamarin, and is native to the rainforests of Colombia. Understandably, it gets its name from the fluffy white crest that runs from forehead to nape, which stands in striking contrast to the dark skin on its face and paws. While it might not be noticeable in the picture above, the cotton-top actually has huge, sharp incisors and canines, which create the appearance of tusks and helps it to tear into animal materials such as insects and amphibians (yikes!) Primarily, though, the tamarin enjoys eating fruit and plant stuffs. Tragically, the tamarin is classed as critically endangered, with an estimated 6000 left in the wild (2000 of which are adults.) A common theme across most monkeys, this species is at risk due to the destruction of its habitat in place of large-scale agricultural production, such as cattle farming and palm oil production.

Japanese Macaque (Japan)

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Last but not least, we have one of my favourite animals of all: the Japanese macaque, otherwise known as the snow monkey. Endemic to Japan itself, these terrestrial Old World monkeys are the stuff of legend and have been featured prominently in the folklore and art of region - most notably, perhaps, as the 'three wise monkeys' ('see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.') As one of the few species of monkeys to much prefer colder climates, they are able to live in temperatures as low as -16 degrees and at elevations as high as 9600 feet above sea level! That said, they can be found in warmer forests too, and actually love to spend their time in Japanese onsen (or hot springs.) Macaques are relatively fearless of humans, despite the threat that we have posed to them for generations - such as hunting, destruction of habitats, and even poaching. In addition to their seemingly forgiving nature, snow monkeys are highly intelligent and are often witnessed teaching their young how to play in the snow, seasoning food with salt for eating (yes, really!), and even developing different accents dependent on where they live or who in their troops they're attempting to communicate with. Ultimately, these crimson-faced critters have to be one of the coolest species on the planet, don't you think!?

Sweet as this list may be, there are hundreds of different species of monkey out there that are facing risk every single day. To understand more about their struggles, or even to educate yourself a little more on the various breeds of monkey there are, check out more of our blogs or join one of our projects today!

Our Top Cheeky Monkeys (2024)


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