Family tales: Goeldi’s monkeys

Goeldi’s monkeys live in family groups of six to eight in South American rainforests. The parents and siblings keep close, rarely moving more than 15m apart (45’).

They use a range of scents and almost 50 high-pitched calls to stay in touch and alert one another to food and predators. These loud calls may be heard during a visit to The Living Rainforest.

Jumping high

They can jump up to 4m (12’) with their powerful hind legs, impressive for one of the smallest primates.

They have long fur that protects them during jumping. The fur feels silky to touch, but will stand on end if the monkey is threatened. This makes the monkeys look bigger and more intimidating to an attacker.

Living at low heights

Goeldi’s monkey families live near ground level in dense undergrowth and bamboo forests eating a variety of fruits, fungi, and any insects and animals they can catch.

However, this preferred habitat occurs only in patches in rainforests. Groups of monkeys may be separated by many miles of unsuitable habitat, such as areas of primary rainforest. These are dominated by tall trees where the dense canopy prevents enough sunlight reaching the forest floor to support sufficient undergrowth.

Instead, Goeldi’s monkeys are found in secondary rainforest where there is dense jungle-like growth at lower levels. These occur when primary rainforests are ‘disturbed’ and re-grow after an event thins the dense canopy above, such as tree removal for timber extraction or an environmental cause.

The Living Rainforest most closely represents a secondary rainforest because there is a mass of foliage near ground level. If it was primary, you would see mostly tree trunks and layers of dense canopy forest 30-45m high (100-150ft).

A rare forager under threat

Goeldi’s monkeys are already rare in rainforests and, sadly, this makes them more desirable for the international trade in tropical pets – a major threat to rainforest diversity.

Fortunately, Goeldi’s monkeys have some legal protection through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This is an agreement between governments to ensure that the trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Geoldi’s monkeys are an ‘Appendix I’ species where trade is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.

Goeldi’s monkeys are also vulnerable to habitat loss by deforestation and hunting by local people for food.

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At a glance


Rainforests in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, North Brazil, and Bolivia


Fruit, insects, fungi, and small reptiles. We also feed ours cooked pasta and yoghurt as tasty treats.


Head and body:25cm (10’’). Tail length: 30cm (12’’)

IUCN conservation status

Near threatened, but vulnerable in Columbia where only six populations are known.
What does this mean?

Scientific name

Callimico goeldii

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