(Lophocebus albigena)

General Characteristics

Grey-cheeked mangabeys are arboreal Old World monkeys with long limbs and a tail generally longer than their body. They have longer hair on their shoulders and neck that is lighter in color than the black hair that covers their back, legs and tail. The chest is generally lighter brown and the cheeks, as the name suggests, are generally grey. As with many primates, their face is only lightly haired. They are sexually dimorphic in size, with males ranging from 13 to 24 pounds (six to 11 kilograms) and females ranging from nine to 15 pounds (four to seven kilograms). Females also tend to be slenderer than males.

Other species of mangabeys have distinctly colored faces or eyelids that help them with visual communication displays, however, due to the dense forest habitat that is home to this species, grey-cheeked mangabeys rely more on vocal communication. They have a variety of grunts, barks, screams, and calls, including a characteristic “whoop-gobble” call given by the male. Males have a throat sac to help amplify calls that establish the location of his troop and his presence in an area.

Since 2007, there has been discussion among researchers about elevating what were considered the three subspecies of grey-cheeked mangabeys (L. a. albigena; L. a. johnstoni; and L. a. osmani) to be classified as three distinct species, with the addition of a newly described population in Uganda as afourth species, Lophocebus ugandae. The last IUCN survey of grey-cheeked mangabeys was released in 2008, just as this research was becoming available so there is little conservation information aboutthe individual species/sub-species. Unless otherwise stated, the information provided here applies ingeneral to all grey-cheeked managbeys.

Distribution and Habitat

Grey-cheeked mangabeys are found across central Africa including south-east Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, mainland Equatorial Guinea, southwestern Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Uganda, western Kenya, and extreme northwestern Tanzania.

They live in both primary and secondary forests where they spend most of their time in the upper canopy. They are mostly a lowland species, but may live in montane forests as high as one mile (1600 m) above sea level. Mangabeys live in social troops usually led by a single dominant male, though some larger groups may have multiple dominant males that disperse into smaller groups for foraging. Troops range in size, but average around 15 individuals. Females tend to remain with their natal groups, while males typically leave upon maturity to join another troop. Troops have home ranges between 1.2 and 2.4 square miles (2-4 km2) that greatly overlap both with other mangabeys, as well as other primate species.

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.


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.

Zoo Diet

At the Zoo, we feed the mangabey primate chow and a variety of fruits and vegetables. She also receives crickets and mealworms on a regular basis.

Life Span

In the wild, managabeys may live between 20 and 30 years. There is some evidence that lifespan in the wild is related to diet, specifically, that mangabeys that feed more regularly on hard nuts wear their teeth down more quickly and die sooner than those with a softer diet. In captivity, mangabeys are said to live up to 32 years. However the Zoo’s mangabey, Maude, has long surpassed that age. 


Mating occurs year round for managbeys. Females exhibit tumescenceon the fleshy, pink pads (ischial callosities) below their tails when they are receptive for mating. Generally, one offspring is born after a gestation period of six months.


As of 2008, grey-cheeked mangabeys were listed as “least concern” by the IUCN with a down trending population. The greatest threats to their survival include being hunted for bushmeat and habitat loss, primarily to agricultural development. They are listed in the African Convention on theConservation of Nature and Natural Resources, as well as CITES appendix II.