Capuchin monkeys are named that way because they look like tiny Spanish Capuchin monks with their white faces and dark brown robes and hoods on the heads.
Characteristics: Brown capuchins range in color from light brown to black. The shoulders and underbelly are lighter than the rest of the body. There is a patch of black fur (a cap) on the crown of the head.
Lifespan: Wild capuchins can live 15-25 years. In captivity they can live 50+ years.
Habitat: Moist subtropical or tropical forests, but will also occupy dry forest, gallery forest, disturbed and secondary forest.
Range: East of the Andes from Colombia and Venezuela to Paraguay and northern Argentina.
Diet: Capuchins are omnivores, eating not only fruits, nuts, seeds, and buds, but also insects, spiders, birds’ eggs, and small vertebrates. Those living near water will also eat crabs and shellfish.
Behavior: Diurnal and arboreal. They are social animals which live in groups of 8-15 animals. Males leave the group at maturity, so the core members are the females which typically spend their lives with the same group.
Keeper Notes: Our female capuchins, Lana (light brown) and Zephyr (dark brown), were born in captivity in 1987. Jose (largest, dark brown male) was born in 1994. Lana came to the zoo 1993 from a private zoo. Zephyr arrived in 2014 on loan from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois. Jose lived the first 24 years of his life as a laboratory animal. He is now “retired” and will live out his life, enjoying the outdoors, at Ochsner Park Zoo.
Although they came from different institutions, the three monkeys quickly became a cohesive group. They have access outside when the temperature is above 40 degrees and can be viewed daily in the glassed area. Their favorite foods include: hard boiled eggs, avocado, applesauce, apples, and any birds they can catch. They enjoy spending much of their time outdoors sitting in their hammocks.