The white-faced saki monkey is noticeably different in appearance between the male and female. Males are black across the body except for the white or pale gold face which gives them their name. They have a black nose. The throat has no fur to make scent marking easier.
Females in contrast are a grey brown color with pale tips to the hairs. Their face is dark in color. The belly is a paler color than the rest of the body and a white stripe extends from the eye to the side of the face.
Their bushy tail is not prehensile and cannot be used to hold items or move through the trees.
They measure 35cm (14in) long on average with a tail that can reach up to 44cm (17.5in) long. Their weight averages 2kg (4.5lbs). Both genders are typically similar in size.
They are equipped with sharp incisor teeth which help them to impale fruit and strong canines which can crack seeds and nuts.
To supplement their diet they will eat soil to obtain the minerals within. They obtain iron by eating termite mounds.
Water is obtained by dipping their hands in the puddles which form in a tree hollow and then licking the water off their hands.
Wild 15 years
Captive 35 years
— AD —
South America is the native home of the white-faced saki. Here they live throughout Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.
They make their home in mature forest habitats such as flooded, evergreen, coastal and gallery forest though they can also exist in secondary forests. Population density in secondary forests is typically lower.
Infants are typically born in November or December. Males and females can mate with multiple partners in the wild. Previous reports of them being monogamous were mostly obtained in captivity.
Females give birth after a 146 day gestation period. A single infant has been born on all recorded occasions but twins could be possible.
For the first 5 months of their life the infant clings to the mother’s fur. At 2 months old the fur on a males face will begin to turn white or pale gold while the female retains her infant coloration.
Young sakis remain in the group after weaning and may provide assistance with raising the next infant born.
Males mature soon before their third birthday with females maturing around the same time or slightly later.
On the throat is the gular gland which is used for scent marking. Urine is also used for scent marking. Most of this scent marking is performed by males.
White-faced sakis are active during the day. At night they sleep coiled up on a branch.
Most of their time is spent in the trees. To move between trees they are able to jump up to 10m (33ft).
They live in small groups. Most of these have four members but groups of up to ten have been observed.
This group maintains a home territory. This is aggressively defended against other white-faced sakis. If two groups meet they will engage in treat displays including loud vocalizations, branch shaking and chasing.
A mating pair will call to each other to reinforce their bond. These calls include trills, chuckles, whistles and growls.
Predators and Threats
If predators approach they let out an alarm call and the whole group will stand still. The group may gang up to attack smaller predators.
When threatened the white-faced saki will perform a threat display during which they growl and shake their body while it is an arched posture. If this is unsuccessful they will shake a branch with their whole body.
Humans reduce their population through habitat destruction and hunting.
They are sometimes called the ‘flying monkey’ due to their ability to jump up to 10m (33ft) in a single bound.
Top Two and Bottom
By _paVan_ from Singapore, Singapore – White-faced Saki Monkey, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65696858
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
Edinburgh Zoo. 2020. White-Faced Saki | Edinburgh Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/animals-and-attractions/animals/white-faced-saki/> [Accessed 7 October 2020].
Starr, E., 2018. White-Faced Saki. [online] New England Primate Conservancy. Available at: <https://www.neprimateconservancy.org/white-faced-saki.html> [Accessed 7 October 2020].
Grubich, N. 2013. "Pithecia pithecia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 07, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pithecia_pithecia/
Smithsonian's National Zoo. 2020. Pale-Headed Saki Monkey. [online] Available at: <https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/pale-headed-saki-monkey> [Accessed 7 October 2020].
Stlzoo.org. 2020. White-Faced Saki | Saint Louis Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/mammals/lemursmonkeysapes/whitefacedsaki> [Accessed 7 October 2020].
Kidszoo.org. 2020. White-Faced Saki Monkey | Our Animals | Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://kidszoo.org/our-animals/white-faced-saki-monkey/> [Accessed 7 October 2020].