The Brandywine Zoo has two white-faced saki monkeys: Gandalf and Bonnie. Bonnie was born at The Philadelphia Zoo, but later moved to the Bronx Zoo in April 2005 on a breeding recommendation. There, she gave birth to Gandalf. Both came to the Brandywine Zoo in July 2020. You can find them living in our South American primate habitat, which they currently share with our golden lion tamarins.
Tropical rainforests, living in the middle to lower to mid-canopy level of the forest (rarely walking on the ground).
GEOGRAPHIC REGION AND RANGE
Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela
Herbivore – fruit, leaves, seeds
Dimorphic (males and females look different) – males are black with white faces, females are gray. Their distinctive white facial discs give them their name.
Natural Habitat: 15 years
Under Human Care: mid-thirties
This species is not well researched in the wild. The biggest threat to saki right now is habitat loss. As rainforests are being cut down to make way for roads, farms, and buildings, all of the animals that live there are losing their homes. Their remote habitat locations make them difficult to study in their native range, which makes accurate population numbers a challenge to collect. Other threats include hunting and the pet trade.
Least Concern (though its population numbers are unknown)
Their lower front teeth are specialized for opening nuts and tough fruits. This helps them get to the nutritious seeds hidden within.
Their thick tails are not prehensile, meaning that they don’t wrap or grip like some other primates. Instead their tails are used for balance while jumping through the trees.
Saki monkeys do not grasp tree branches between their index finger and thumb, as humans would. Instead, their grasp falls between the index finger and middle finger, so that 3 fingers are on one side and a finger and thumb on the other.
What are AZA Zoos doing for White-faced Saki?
Their zoo population is managed through conservation breeding programs called Species Survival Plan programs (SSP), which ensures genetic diversity and species health. Their SSP is coordinated by the New World Primate Taxon Advisory Group. The Como Park Zoo is the program leader for the white-faced saki. As of 2020, there were around 135 white-faced saki in AZA facilities.