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Regions > Indomalaya Outdoor Exhibit > Lion-tailed Macaque

Lion-tailed Macaque

Location at the Zoo: Indomalaya Outdoor Exhibit











Scientific Name:

Macaca silenus


: Distinguished from all other macaques by its glossy black coat with a wide, grey fringe of hair, forming a ruff or a mane on both sides of the head, meeting under the chin, consisting of 15 cm, long greyish-white hairs. The tail is shorter than the head and body, terminating in a tuft of elongated hairs. The nose has a narrow septum, resulting in nostrils close together, comma shaped and pointing downwards resulting in a Catarrhini effect. Macaques have prominent ischial callosities. These are hairless cornified pads on the rump, which are bonded to the flat ischial bones of the pelvis. Thumbs are fully opposable. The body is 40 – 60 cm long with the tail being an additional 24 – 46 cm. Lion-tailed macaque males weigh 5 – 10 kg and females are smaller weighing 3 – 6 kg.


: These occur in southern India on the west coast between the Western Ghat Mountains and the Malabar Coast.


: They live in evergreen and semi-evergreen rainforests. Usually found at altitudes between 600 m and 1000 m, but can go as high as 1,500 m. They are typically associated with broad leaf trees.


: These macaques are omnivorous. However, their diet is primarily fruit. They also eat a wide variety of vegetation such as leaves, flowers, stems, buds, nuts, and fungi. On occasion they eat insects, small birds, mammals, and lizards.

Reproduction and Development

: There is no specific breeding season. They are polygynous. Groups typically contain one male and several females and juveniles. When a female is in estrus, swelling occurs in the area under her tail (perineal oestrus swelling). She emits a courtship call to let males know she is ready to copulate. Foreplay activity begins with increased mutual grooming and embracing. This is followed by the male examining the female’s vulva. Mated couples frequently withdraw from the group to copulate. Once this occurs they do not remain together. One young and occasionally twins are born after a gestation period of five to seven months. The baby is born with a pinkish face and a soft, black pelage. This fur is replaced with an adult pelage after two months. Newborns weigh approximately 450 g. The baby is totally dependant on its mother and is carried around by her usually on the abdomen. Females nurse and care for their young for extended periods while the young learn and grow. The young macaque nurses for nearly a year. When offspring reach adolescence, females generally stay in the social group of their birth, but males leave and live in nomadic all-male groups until they are able to defend a harem of their own. Males and females reach maturity at different ages, males maturing later, at eight years of age. Females can produce their first offspring around the age of five.


: Mainly diurnal and arboreal. They associate in troops of about 24 individuals of both sexes and different ages with an older dominant male as leader. Several troops may merge occasionally to form temporary aggregations of 100 or more individuals. The troop lives in peace, only because peace is enforced by the dominant male who defends against external attacks and polices internal squabbles. They have an extensive range of communication, including 17 different vocal patterns. Males use calls to define their territorial boundaries. In addition, visual communication is expressed through body postures and facial expression. Macaques express their aggressive feelings with three basic attitudes. These are of increasing severity. First is the stare - a hard look to intimidate; next an extra menace is added by opening the mouth and showing its teeth; finally the most aggressive pose reinforcing the facial threats is bobbing the head up and down. From then on there can only be fight or flee. Sometimes males fight fiercely, usually over a female. Tactile communication is expressed via grooming, play, mounting, and aggression. They climb easily and sleep and rest in trees. The ischial callosities allow then to sit and sleep wedged in the fork of a tree, without discomfort because there is no sensitive soft tissue between the callosity and the haunch bone. Macaques have cheek pouches in which they store food while feeding. They open beside the lower teeth and extend down the side of the neck. They swim well.

Threats to Survival

: Habitat destruction for plantations of coffee, tea and eucalyptus. Natural predators are large snakes, raptors, and carnivores. They are still hunted for their skin and meat and are occasionally shot as pests.


: IUCN: Endangered; CITES: Appendix l

Zoo Diet

: Mazuri leafeater chow, mixed vegetables, mixed fruit, hard-boiled eggs, unsweetened apple sauce, alfalfa hay, grain/seed mix, crickets, mealworms, walnuts, peanuts, softbill gelatine diet, fruit gelatine