White-faced saki monkey

Pithecia pithecia

White-faced saki monkeys live in tropical rainforests in southern and eastern Venezuela as well as the Guianas and in northeastern Brazil. They prefer forests with fruit trees and easy access to water.

The life of a white-faced saki monkey

White-faced sakis are 3 to 3 ½ pound monkeys that spend most of their time in the trees. They move on all fours, but because their legs are much longer than their arms, they often run on their back legs along horizontal branches. They have earned the name "flying monkeys" because they can leap up to 30 feet between tree branches. They overnight in larger trees with lots of foliage, where they sleep coiled up on open branches.

White-faced saki monkeys are sexually dimorphic—males look different from females. Males are solid glossy black with a white face and a black snout. Females are brown overall, with a black face and white stripes along their nose. Newborns are the color of females.

Active during the day, sakis eat fruit, honey, leaves and flowers and prey on small mammals and birds. Thanks to sturdy canine teeth, they can also crack open the hard shells of nuts and seeds.They sometimes go into hollow trees to catch and eat roosting bats.

Sakis are easy prey to large birds because of their small size, and they are careful to stay concealed in the canopy as much as possible. When threatened by a predator, they warn the group using an alarm call, then fluff up, shake their body hair and stomp their feet in an arched-back posture.

White-faced saki monkeys live alone, in pairs or in small family groups made up of the parents and two or three offspring. The group travels and forages together, moving ½ to 1 ¼ miles each day, mostly in the morning and the early afternoon. They socialize by grooming each other. To establish territory, males and females perform loud calls together. These duets strengthen their courtship bond.

Females are ready to breed when they are 2 to 3 years old. They are pregnant about 165 days and bear one offspring at a time. Mothers carry their in¬fants for the first 3-5 months, but siblings from the previous pregnancy may also help to take care of the newborn. Young sakis are independent by six months, but they usually stay with their family at least until after the mother's next pregnancy.

In the wild, white-face saki monkeys live about 15 years. In captivity, they can live up to 10 years longer.  

White-faced saki monkey conservation

White-faced saki monkeys are not endangered, but they are hunted for food, captured for the pet trade and suffer from habitat destruction. Oregon Zoo participates in the white-faced saki monkey Species Survival Plan, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

How you can help white-faced saki monkeys

Whether you're purchasing napkins, paper or a bed frame, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label to help ensure that your wood product is "friendly" to forests. Forests are home to 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and they help to stabilize the earth's climate. FSC standards help limit clear cuts, restrict the most hazardous chemicals and reduce erosion along rivers.

White-faced saki monkeys at the Oregon Zoo

At the zoo, these monkeys live in the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit. The saki monkeys enjoy insect treats like mealworms and crickets, as well as flowering browse, and enrichment toys, including egg cartons and raisin boards stuffed with yummy treats like peanut butter, yogurt and honey. They are very inquisitive and enjoy training with their keeper.