Africa Rocks at the San Diego Zoo
Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks at the San Diego Zoo
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Animals of the Africa Forest Canopy
Animals of the African Forest Canopy
Patas Monkey

Among patas monkeys, it’s the females that rule the roost, leading groups of up to 30 individuals with usually only 1 adult male included. Patas monkeys have the distinction of being the world’s fastest primate: they walk on their fingers, not on their palms, and can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. They are cheeky monkeys, able to hold as much food in their cheeks as they can in their stomach, a way to save a meal for later.

Vervet Monkey

These arboreal monkeys spend most of their time in the trees, feeding on fruit, leaves, and insects. They are quite sociable, living in troops of 10 to 50, and young females assist adult females with grooming and caring for babies. Vervet monkeys are agile climbers, leaping and jumping from branch to branch, and they are also excellent swimmers.

Aye Aye

These unique and endangered primates are a species of lemur that lives in the rain forests of Madagascar. They are the world’s largest nocturnal primate, using their extremely keen senses to find insects, fruits, seeds, and nectar to eat. They have long, bony fingers with sharp claws for climbing, but their most famous feature is the elongated, double-jointed middle finger they use to tap on tree bark to find grubs, then poke into holes to hook the grubs and pull them out.

Aye aye photo ©Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures

Red Ruffed Lemur

This beautiful lemur species lives in the forest canopy of northeastern Madagascar. They live in groups of 2 to 10 individuals, usually a mated pair and their offspring. Red ruffed lemurs are the largest lemur species, and they are very vocal, using a series of at least 12 different sounds to communicate and warn each other about predators, including a booming call that can be heard for miles.

Honey Badger

Also known as the ratel, honey badgers are solitary carnivores that eat a wide variety of prey, including insects—especially bee larvae—scorpions, lizards, rodents, birds, and even venomous snakes like adders and cobras. Each honey badger travels throughout an established home range, using the dens of other animals for resting. They visit and scent mark at “latrines,” a common area that serves as a “notice board” of which badgers are in the vicinity.

Dwarf Crocodile

As their name indicates, this species is among the smallest of crocodiles at only about five feet. Because of its size, the endangered dwarf crocodile does not swallow its food whole but rather tears the meat into pieces. These crocodiles live in swamps, marshes, lakes, and slow-moving rivers and dig dens into banks for shelter. They propel themselves through the water with their tail and steer with their feet, and they can remain underwater without taking a breath for up to an hour.

Sociable Weaver

Sociable weavers have an unusual lifestyle: they weave one nest for their entire colony, a massive structure like a giant apartment block occupied by up to 100 sociable weaver families. Once built, the nest is maintained indefinitely—some sociable weaver nests have remained occupied for over 100 years. With so much family under one roof, parent birds have lots of helpers for the new chicks, and juveniles will provide food for their younger brothers and sisters.

Carmine Bee Eater

These colorful birds live in colonies of up to 1,000. As you might expect, their favorite foods are bees and wasps. The birds eat them by vigorously rubbing them against a branch to squeeze out the venom, then swallowing them whole. Carmine bee-eaters live in open savanna and woodlands, and they take advantage of other animals stirring up insects to catch a meal, sometimes riding on a large mammal’s back or flying next to moving vehicles.

Southern Ground Hornbill

The southern ground hornbill is a long-legged bird that spends most of its time on the ground. It is the largest hornbill species and is capable of capturing hares and driving eagles away from their prey. Southern ground hornbills live in groups of 5 to 10, and juveniles help adult pairs raise chicks during nesting season. They are generally quiet birds, but males can inflate their colorful throat sac to make booming calls that announce territorial boundaries.

Beautiful Sunbird

These dainty little birds are only about four inches long. They feed mainly on nectar, which they can gather from flowers by hovering like hummingbirds do, although they usually sit on a perch to feed. They have curved bills and a brush-tipped, tubular tongue to help them obtain nectar. They are important pollinators, since they help pollinate plants as they move from flower to flower.