Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Body length: male—about 32 inches (81 centimeters), female—about 22 inches (56 centimeters)
Tail length: 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 centimeters)
Weight: male—average 55 pounds (25 kilograms); female—25 pounds (11.5 kilograms)
Life span: up to 40 years
Gestation: about 6.5 months
Number of young at birth: usually 1, sometimes 2
Weight at birth: 1 to 2 pounds (0.4 to 0.9 kilograms)
Age of maturity: 4 to 8 years
Conservation status: endangered
• If a mandrill is upset, it may beat the ground energetically. This is no slight gesture, as the mandrill is strong and muscular with powerful limbs.
• Mandrills are also known as the forest baboon. They are indeed related to baboons but live in the more heavily forested areas of Africa.
• The San Diego Zoo's first mandrills arrived in 1923.
• The character Rafiki in Disney's The Lion King is referred to as a baboon. But take a closer look and you'll see he has the colorful face of a mandrill.
Big and brilliant
Endangered monkeys from African, mandrills are one of the largest species of monkey in the world. Their furry head crests, manes, and beards are quite impressive, but what will really get your attention is their bright coloration. They have thick ridges along their noses that are purple and blue, their noses and lips are red, and their beards are golden.
Adult male mandrills that have the brightest and most distinctive reds, blues, lavenders, and golds on their faces and fur are thought to be most attractive to females. But that's not all—those bright colors show up again on the mandrills' rear ends! Why? Probably for displays, but also so they can follow each other in thick forests. Adult females have duller colors and longer muzzles. They are also much smaller, about half the size of the adult males.
Save some for later
Mandrills come equipped with their own built-in carryout containers! They have large cheek pouches inside their mouths that they can stuff full of food to eat at a later time. Sometimes they take their goodies to a safer location before enjoying them. Mandrills spend most of their time on the ground, foraging for seeds, nuts, fruits, and small animals. At the San Diego Zoo, the mandrills are offered leaf eater biscuits, assorted fruits (such as apples, grapes, melons), vegetables (green beans, corn, eggplant), and greens (cabbage, lettuce, kale). Enrichment treats can include raisins, popcorn, and peanuts.
Grin and "bare" it
Like all monkeys, mandrills communicate through scent marking, vocalizations, and body language. Sometimes mandrills shake their heads and "grin" widely to show their enormous canine teeth, which can be over 2 inches (5 centimeters) long. This may appear scary to us, but it’s usually a friendly gesture within the mandrill community.
Mandrills live in groups called troops with many adult males and females, as well as youngsters, usually about 20 animals. The leader, or dominant male, of the troop has the boldest, brightest colors. Super troops of several hundred mandrills may gather together when food is readily available. Mandrills have long arms and can travel long distances on the ground. They do climb trees, though, and even sleep there, selecting a different tree each evening. Female mandrills usually give birth to one baby. The infant is born with a dark fur coat and open eyes. It can cling to the mother's belly immediately. At two months of age it starts to lose the baby hair and grow its adult coat.
Saving primates and habitats
Mandrills are most closely related to and share a habitat with drills Mandrillus leucophaeus. Drills are one of the most critically endangered primate species in Africa. Conservation organizations are working to protect mandrill habitat from illegal logging and the bushmeat trade. Bushmeat is the hunting of wildlife species for food and trade. The illegal bushmeat trade is the most critical threat to both drills and mandrills. By protecting habitat, populations of both these species can be saved.