Zoo Observation Project. Primates at Sacramento Zoo

Scientific Study, 2015

6 Pages, Grade: 1



Table of Contents


Section One (Black and White Ruffed Lemur)

Section Two (White Face Saki)

Section Three (Sumatran Orangutan)

Section Four (The White-handed Gibbon)


Works Cited


Observing animals in a zoo set up can be quite instrumental, especially in situations where accessing their natural habitat may be limited. The main challenge, however, is the change in behaviors that animals tend to adopt over time, in a bid to fit into the new environments. Primates are one particular kingdom of animals that are so interesting to study, more so by simply watching what they do, regardless of the time (Caldecott and Miles 27). To help come up with a comprehensive outline of the various similarities and differences the animals have, I set out to observe the animals in Sacramento Zoo, on November 22, 2015. The findings about these animals, though a bit limited due to the environment, were much in line with the traits expected of them when in the jungle, their natural habitat. Nonetheless, observation of animals in a zoo comes out just as practical as doing so in the natural setting.

Section One (Black and White Ruffed Lemur)

The very first animal that I came across was the Black and White Ruffed Lemur. This primate belongs to the duborder, Strepsirrhini; Inraorder, Lemuriformes; Superfamily, Lemuroidea; Family, Lemuridae; Genus, Varecia; and Species, variegate. Lemur has a relatively long and soft coat with a variety of patterns on different parts of their body (Sacramento Zoo (d)). The distance form their head to body measure an average of 51-60cm with tail length ranging from 56-65 cm and a body weight ranging from 3.2 to 4.5 kg.

These animals are arboreal and diurnal; as research shows, they use all the fours to maneuver their ways amongst trees, and frequently suspend themselves upside down using their hind legs, especially when they try to reach out to some fruits from the branches. Indeed, this is in line with my observation: the animals were hanging or swinging on branches or rope on several occasions. Even the male lemur, after ignoring the female, got to a tree and hangs off its branch. The animals are predominantly quadrupedal, moving in all fours in most occasions, they at times pull their fore legs off the ground (Sacramento Zoo (d)). Inasmuch as there is not any marked sexual dimorphism between the males and the females, the males tend to be generally smaller, though the colors are the same (Ferris, Brown, Davidson, and Wilson 6321). While, in the wild, the animals are known to feed on seeds, fruits, leaves, and nectar, however, in the zoo, the animals feed purely on vegetables and fruit, and allowed to browse the branches.

Moreover, the animals are generally egregious in their setting as they are rarely alone, though one particular animal I saw isolated from the group that was so noisy and active contradicted this a bit. Moreover, the females seem to dominate in every aspect, for instance, there was an instance a female approached a male, which seemed rather intimidated, and consequently moved away and climbed a tree. In addition, in the real world, the animals move in territories, of between 5 and 30, though the females are the leaders (Overdorff, Erhart and Mutschler 15). This could be due to their relatively larger sizes than the males. Moreover, the population of the animals range somewhere between 1000 and 10,000 in the wild, which could lead to a bit of variation in the behaviors, especially due to the expansive forest spaces as compared to the zoo setting (Sacramento Zoo (d)). Moreover, the animal is currently one of the most endangered species; therefore, their demographics are constantly changing.

Section Two (White Face Saki)

The White Face Saki is a more or less small fruit and seeds-feeding monkey of roughly 20 inches tall, though; they also feed on vegetables, flowers, insects, leaves, bats, and birds. Only the males have an all-black coat with white fur covering their faces; the female possesses a short, brownish gray coat with a couple of vertical marks stretching down her nose from the eye (Sacramento Zoo (b)). The White Face Saki are monkeys possessing a relatively short tail of length ranging between 22-24 inches making them arboreal non-prehensile primate and hence locomotive by leaping. Nevertheless, the White Face Saki being Quadra pedal, utilizes entirely their four limbs to jump, hang and climb the cave and trees.

Despite being two monkeys in the zoo, I did learn that the prevailing population in the wild is undefined. This observation is because the monkey species are not endangered; therefore, people talk very little concerning, and barely recognize them. The White Face Saki seemed to be widely spread geographically. Besides being native to South American Brazil, they also cover Guyana, Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana and Cuyuni River basin (Cunningham and Janson 297). The monkeys’ exhibit closed social units in which the male are deprived of young ones’ grooming activities.

Section Three (Sumatran Orangutan)

Commonly known as Sumatran Orangutan, Pongo abelli, belongs to the suborder haplorrhini; Inrraorder Simiiformes; Superfamily, Hominodea, Family, Hominidae, Genus, Pongo, and two Species, abelli and pygmaeus. In the zoo, there were just two of these animals, a male, and a female. Both have a stout body with relatively longer arms and legs. As outlined by the Sacramento Zoo documentation, the primates generally have variation in the color of their coats, which was evident even in the zoo; they did not have purely same color (Goodall 103). The male has well-developed cheek phalanges known as fat pads and throat sac known as dewlap. The female appears to be smaller than the male with no fat but has a very small dewlap. I was majorly surprised that both animals had beards; nevertheless, there still are some features that show sexual dimorphism: sizes. Whereas the males weigh about 87kg, and a body length of roughly 97cm, the female is far smaller with a weight of about 37kg, and a length of 78cm (Sacramento Zoo1 (b)). Indeed, the animals exhibited all these, as the female seems much smaller.

The animals have hair covering most parts of their body, though some parts of the animals’ feet, faces, and hands were bare without hair. They have relatively lanky and long arms, which help them in swinging through tall trees of rainforests. Additionally, the animals have the ability of grabbing and holding objects. In the observation, I noticed the male animal grabbing the rope with both hands, which exhibits its ability to maneuver its ways around the large forests. During my course of twenty minutes, observation of the Orangutan, the male spent most of the time digging into the leaves, while the female occupied herself by grooming the male. This shows that they are prehensile arboreal apes well adept at the use of their four limbs hence they are quadrupedal (Sacramento Zoo (a)). Moreover, I observed that when the orangutans moved into the caves they moved on their four limbs, but on their fist not on their knuckles as regularly observed in most big apes.


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Zoo Observation Project. Primates at Sacramento Zoo
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Anonymous, 2015, Zoo Observation Project. Primates at Sacramento Zoo, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/311650


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