Black-handed spider monkeys

Ateles geoffroyi

Spider Monkeys get their name because of their extremely long, spidery limbs & prehensile tail. The tail acts like a fifth limb & is used to hang on when they are feeding high in the trees. The colour of a Black-handed Spider Monkey varies from light buff to reddish-brown or black depending on the subspecies &, as the common name implies, the hands (& feet) are usually black. The face is hairless, with un-pigmented skin around the eyes and muzzle. Infants are born black but lighten in colour in some subspecies during the first five months. Black-handed Spider Monkeys are sociable animals and tend to live in multi-male, multi-female groups of 4 to 35 individuals (average around 15).  

Distribution & habitat

In the wild they live in Mexico & Central America. It is an arboreal species that prefers to live in the upper levels of the tree canopy & is often found in primary and secondary rainforests.


Active during the day (diurnal) they like to eat fruit, but will also eat leaves, flowers & occasionally bark, nuts, seeds, insects & eggs.

Life expectancy & breeding

Life expectancy in the wild: approx 25 years. Females actively choose their mates & initiate breeding which may take place at any time of the year. Females give birth to a single infant every 2 to 4 years, after a gestation period of 7 to 8 months. Young are normally dependent on their mothers for 3 years, and reach sexual maturity at 4 years (females), 5 years (males), after which females usually migrate to other groups.

Conservation status


The Black-handed Spider Monkey sadly appears on the The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species  as ENDANGERED. The major threat is habitat loss. It’s estimated that the species has declined by as much as 50%since 1970.

Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie. NSW 2444 is home to brother and sister: Nacho (male) & Maria (female).

KEEPER TALK: Daily at 11:00am | 4:00pm