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Squirrel Monkeys and Capuchins: Cebidae

Weeper Capuchin (cebus Olivaceus):species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Weeper capuchins weigh 5.3 to 6.6 pounds (2.4 to 3 kilograms), males being larger than females. They measure about 20 inches (55 centimeters) with a tail that is just as long. They have an orange-brown body and yellowish shoulders and upper arms. A wedge-shaped, dark brown coloration extends from the forehead to the back of the head. The long, brown tail tipped with black is semiprehensile, so it can wrap around a branch.

Geographic range: Weeper capuchins are found in Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Weeper capuchins live in groups of eight to fifty individuals with a dominant male. Young females stay with the group, but young males leave when they are as young as two years old. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Weeper capuchins inhabit the middle and lower layers of evergreen rainforests. They also live in dry forests, mountain forests, gallery forests (woods along streams and rivers), and shrub woodlands.

Diet: Weeper capuchins eat fruits, buds, shoots, and roots of small trees. They also feed on insects, snails, and birds.

Behavior and reproduction: Weeper capuchins form groups of eight to fifty individuals, ruled by a dominant male. They are arboreal and forage during the day. They take breaks to groom each other's fur, removing parasites and dirt. Capuchins claim territory by urine washing. They soak their hands with urine, which they rub on their fur and feet, leaving the scent throughout their forest routes. They show aggression by shaking branches and bouncing up and down. They have about a dozen vocalizations, one of which is a sad sound that earned them the name "weeper."

All receptive females mate with the dominant male at a given time. Females have single births. The newborn is able to cling to its mother's fur right away. The father does not take care of the young but may find food for the mother. Females stay with the group, but males leave home as early as two years of age.

Weeper capuchins and people: Weeper capuchins are hunted for food in some areas. They are also used in medical research.

Conservation status: Weeper capuchins are not considered a threatened species. ∎



Kavanagh, Michael. A Complete Guide to Monkeys, Apes and Other Primates. New York: The Viking Press, 1983.

Kinzey, Warren G., ed. New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1997.

Napier, John R., and Prue H. Napier. The Natural History of the Primates. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1986.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Primates of the World. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.


Bergman, Charles. "The Peaceful Primates." Smithsonian (June 1999): 78–86.

Web sites:

Broekema, Iris. "Natural History of the White-Throated Capuchin (Cebus capucinus)." The Primate Foundation of Panama. http://www.primatesofpanama.org/academicresources/articles/capuchin.htm (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Schober, Nathan, and Chris Yahnke. "Cebus olivaceus (Weeping Capuchin)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Cebus_olivaceus.html (accessed on July 6, 2004).

The Squirrel Monkey Breeding and Research Resource. "Saimiri Natural History." University of South Alabama Department of Comparative Medicine. http://www.saimiri.usouthal.edu/saimiri.htm (accessed on July 6, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSquirrel Monkeys and Capuchins: Cebidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Common Squirrel Monkey (saimiri Sciureus): Species Accounts, White-throated Capuchin (cebus Capucinus):species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CEBID