Mandrill


Mandrillus sphinx


Large canine teeth (in males these may be over 2 inches long) and a pronounced muzzle characterize these primates.  Coat is olive brown, while face has muzzle with red median stripe, and blue ridged sides.  These colors are duller in females, along with yellowish-orange coloration around the chin.  Rear is blue to reddish-purple.  Females weigh 24 to 30 lbs., and males reach weights of up to 110 lbs.  The male’s head and body length averages approximately 27.5 inches; tails average 3 to 5 inches long.  Females are much smaller than males.

Family

Cercopithecidae

Order

Primates

Class

Mammalia

Range

Western and Central Africa- Gabon, southwestern Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and southwestern Congo

Habitat

Tropical rain forest floor

Life Expectancy

19 years

Sexual Maturity

5 years

Diet

The wild diet of Mandrills includes plants, fruit, nuts, mushrooms, and small animals. At the Jacksonville Zoo, they are offered monkey chow, a variety of fruits and vegetables, greens, and different novelty food items.

Status

IUCN – Vulnerable, CITES - Appendix I, AZA – yellow SSP

Behaviors

Social Structure: Because the Mandrill makes its home in the dense rainforest it is difficult to observe the exact composition of a typical social group. Most recent research leans towards the idea of permanent female groups with young, which are only joined by males during breeding periods. Within these groups there is a strict hierarchy among the females, which is evident at feeding time. Female offspring remain in their natal groups, while males leave after adulthood is reached. Males spend much of their time in solitude, and bachelor groups have never been observed. Mandrill groups have the potential of reaching very large numbers and remaining stable. These large groups, called hordes, have been observed with over six hundred individuals. Reproduction: Mandrills do not have a designated breeding season, but most breeding tends to occur between June and November, with births coming nearly six months later. Females convey their receptiveness through estrous swelling, located on the rear. Mandrills give birth, on average, to one offspring. Females reach sexual maturity by age five, while males take until ten years old. Parental Care: Most Mandrill parental care is carried out by the mother. Mandrill young are born with a lighter coat than their adult counterparts, but this gradually darkens over time. Infants cling to their mothers belly after birth, but begin developing very quickly. After a few weeks young are very mobile, and by several months comfortable leaving the safety of its mothers side for long periods of time. Communication: Mandrills communicate through a wide variety of facial expressions, vocalizations, and physical interactions. Facial expressions are used to convey interest, aggression, and more. Vocalizations are used to communicate location to other group member, and different vocalizations often accompany different facial expressions. Physical interaction is used to establish and maintain the dominance hierarchy within a group. Dominant Mandrills will elicit submissive responses from lower ranking members. This submission is often shown by presenting the rear to the dominant animal.

Adaptions

The Mandrills strong and powerful limbs aid in traversing the forest floor. Like many primates an opposable thumb allows Mandrills to grasp tree branches and other objects. Mandrills have cheek pouches which can be used to store large amounts of food. Cheek pouches enable subordinant animals to collect and carry food quickly out of the way of dominant individuals. This adaptation helps subordinate animals avoid confrontations with stranger group members while providing ample storage areas to secure food.

Special Interests

Colors on a male’s face become more prominent when threatening lower-ranking members of the group. When mandrills are excited, the blue color on their rear end gets brighter, chest turns blue, and reddish specks may appear on the ankles and wrists. The brilliantly colored posterior of the male acts as a beacon as he leads his group single file through the dense undergrowth of the rain forest. Little is known about the Mandrill’s way of life deep in the recesses of the rain forest.

Folklore

Conservation

Mandrills are hunted for bush meat. Their large size and colorful appearance makes them choice targets for poachers. Additionally, as human agriculture encroaches on Mandrill habitat they are increasingly likely to come into conflict with people. Alterations with farmers concerning crops and the deforestation that precedes agricultural expansion both pose threats to Mandrill populations.

Jacksonville Zoo History

It is unclear just when the first mandrills arrived at the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens. Records document the birth of one in 1945, so we know they must have arrived sometime before. Mandrills have remained in the collection ever since.

Exhibit

Located on the Great Apes Loop, opposite the Bonobo overlook.