Gelada Fact File
Geladas are often thought to be baboons due to their close resemblance to this species which is a close relative of theirs. As an adaptation for life high in the mountains they have a thick coat of fur. Males also have a mane of fur running along the nape of the neck which helps to make them look larger.
Across their back the fur is brownish or buff while it is lighter on the chest. The face is a dark in color with a pale patch on the eyelid. On the chest is the distinctive patch of pink or red fur in an hourglass shape.
Another notable feature is the ischial callosities which are the reinforced patches of pink skin on the buttocks which help keep them comfortable while sitting down for long periods.
At the end of their body is the long tail which may measure between 32 and 64cm (1-2.1ft) long. At the end of this tail is a tuft of fur.
Males are much larger than females. On average males measure 69-74cm (2.3-2.4ft) long while females measure 50-65cm (1.6-2.1ft) long. Males weigh 16.5-20.5kg (36.4-45.2lbs) with females coming in between 8.3 and 13.8kg (18.3 and 30.4lbs).
Geladas are unique among primate as they primarily eat grasses. Much of their day is spent eating grasses. They will pick each blade individually so that can inspect the quality and sort bad from good which is helpful during the dry season.
As well as grass they will opportunistically feed on fruits, roots, leaves, tubers, and insects. They may also eat cereal crops if these are planted in their habitat.
Wild 14-20 years
Captive 30 years
— AD —
Geladas are restricted to Ethiopia where they can be found in two populations across a pair of mountain ranges.
These primates spend most of their time grazing in grasslands. At night they will retreat to cliffs to sleep.
Breeding can occur year round but appears to peak during the rainy season. When females come in to estrus this is indicated by a number of beads forming around the chest patch and their ano-gential region swelling.
The gestation period is 5-6 months following which it is most common for a single infant to be born. The female is responsible for almost all of the care of the infant. At birth the infant has red face, black hair and its eyes are closed.
For the first five weeks of life it is carried on the belly before moving to the back.
Weaning occurs between 12 and 18 months old.
Females mature at around 4 to 5 years old with males not maturing till between 5 and 7 years old.
Unlike most primates they are poor climbers and spend as much as 99% of their time on the ground.
Geladas form a troop known as a one male unit (OMU) which is led by a single male with multiple females and their offspring.
Males groom their females regularly. When the group becomes too large and he is unable to provide this attention to each female some may leave and join a new male to create a new OMU.
These OMUs then form in to larger groups known as bands which may travel and forage together. OMUs may move between bands or roam on their own for a period of time. Multiple bands may also be seen foraging together during times where food is plentiful.
A male may attempt to challenge another male for control of his OMU. Typically the male will ferociously defend his territory and bare his large canines to try and scare away the attacker. On occasion though the females in the group will choose to back the new males and help to chase away their old leader.
They communicate with other geladas through a range of vocalizations and expressions.
Predators and Threats
Humans have impacted this species through hunting both as retribution for those seen as a crop pest and to be used as lab animals. Previously they were hunted so the cape could be made in to hats which were sold to tourists. In some regions trophy hunting has been allowed to continue with the hunter required to obtain a permit.
Increasingly their habitat is being destroyed to be turned in to agricultural land.
The gelada is also known as the ‘bleeding hear baboon’ due to the large red patch on their chest.
Geladas are the last remaining members of a group of grass eating primates which once ranged across to India.
These animals are the second most terrestrial primate after humans.
All Images used Under License
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