Written by Kaitlyn Spross & Willam Weeks
If you’ve been to the Houston Zoo primate section, you may have visited our awesome black howler monkeys: Vida, Garcia and Ramone. And chances are they’ve either been asleep, resting in the sun or munching on leaves with what could be described as a ‘frowny’ look on their faces. Zoo guests often comment on our howlers’ pouty appearance. “Why does that howler monkey look that way? It looks so sad! Is that howler monkey judging me!?” The truth is, our howler monkeys aren’t sad at all! They just have on their resting howler face.
When it comes to their diet, howler monkeys are mainly folivores, which means they eat lots of leaves and plant material. Because leaves are difficult to digest and don’t provide much energy, a howler monkey’s favorite pastime is taking a nice long nap to digest all that greenery. Along with their usual leafy foods, they do enjoy a nice fruit here and there as well. And, they even chow down on an egg once a week.
A howler monkey is at their happiest right after they have eaten; all they do is rest and relax while they absorb all that food. The Houston Zoo howler monkeys certainly live the life of luxury! They get their food delivered every day, and all they have to worry about it is finding the perfect sunny spot to take a six hour siesta.
When the howlers aren’t napping, they can be seen climbing around using their super-cool prehensile tails. A prehensile tail means that their tails are muscular and can be used to grasp things, like branches, which makes them particularly good climbers. Having a prehensile tail is like having an extra limb!
If you come to the zoo early in the morning, you might even get lucky enough to hear our howlers monkeys howl! Their vocalization sounds like a very low, loud, and rumbling call that can be heard up to 3 miles away! It is a territorial call and also one which encourages the group to bond together as they vocalize.
This October, plan a visit to Zoo Boo Presented by Bank of America and our Howlerween conservation event each weekend. You can visit our wonderful howler monkeys and learn more about what the Houston Zoo is doing to save howler monkeys in their wild habitat in Belize!