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(Macaca nigra)

Common Names

Sulawesi crested black macaque, black ape, Celebes ape, Celebes black ape, black Celebes macaque, and crested Celebes macaque. (The Celebes island has been renamed Sulawesi.) Though the common names of the Sulawesi macaque sometimes refer to it as an ape, it is actually a monkey.

Distribution and Habitat

Found in Indonesia, on the extreme northeastern tip of the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) and on several adjacent islands. They are also found on the island of Bacan (or Batjan), where it is believed they were introduced by people.

The island is mountainous and covered with tropical rainforest. The climate is hot, but tempered by sea winds.

Physical Characteristics

Sulawesi macaques have black skin, black hair, compact bodies, very small or almost no external tails, and limbs of equal length. There is a crest of long hairs on the top of their head. Both sexes have ischial callosities (large, bare pads at the base of their tails). Females show a large, pink swelling of these pads around the time of ovulation.

Diet

In the wild, macaques are omnivorous (eating both animals and plants), but are mostly vegetarian. They eat fruit, berries, grains, leaves, insects, and occasionally small vertebrates. At the Zoo, they eat monkey chow, kale, apples, oranges, peanuts, mealworms, crickets, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.

Life Span

Males reach physical maturity between six and ten years of age, and females around six years. Some macaques have lived more than 40 years in zoos.

Reproduction

Gestation is about six months and one young is produced at a time. The intervals between births range from one to two years.

Social Structure and Activity

Sulawesi macaque groups range from five to 50 individuals or larger. There is little evidence of territoriality, but they may defend the area they occupy at any given time. Groups that have been studied spend more than half their day moving and feeding. Adult males moved and rested more than adult females, but fed, foraged, and socialized less.

There is a range of macaque social behaviors that is easily observed. Behaviors include: lip smacking (a greeting), grimacing, grooming, and mutual embraces.

Conservation

Macaca nigra is an endangered species. These macaques are losing their habitat as rainforests are destroyed on Sulawesi. They are also hunted, both as a source of food and because they sometimes raid crops.