Rainforest Experiences
Monkey Life to monkey forest: Fun facts from a whole new world

Why travel half way around the world to see monkeys in the wild? Our volunteer Amelia gives you an insight into a wildlife experience that can't be missed...


Many conservationists have nature documentaries to thank for their interest in the natural world, and this is certainly true for 6-week volunteer, Amelia. Whilst at the Manu Learning Center (MLC) she has turned her passion for monkeys into knowledge that would serve her well in a specialist round of Mastermind.


Image © Eilidh Munro


This jungle story starts rather differently to most. Approximately 5:30pm, Tuesday night, mid-December 2016. My mum and I are sat on the sofa watching telly.


‘Monkey Life’ comes on – rescued monkeys unable to be returned to the wild are living together at a sanctuary in Dorset, England. Cue my monkey mania – think adoption, obsession and general addiction to all things ‘monkey’.


Cue my monkey mania – think adoption, obsession and general addiction to all things ‘monkey’.


Fast forward 4 months to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: see monkeys in the wild. So far it looks like this:

Day 1: Arrive at Manu Learning Centre, Manu, Peru, Western Amazon.
Day 2: Spot titi monkeys, wooly monkeys, spider monkeys and brown capuchins.
Day 9: See squirrel monkeys cross the trail.
Day 16: Saddle back tamarinds climb past whilst we’re snacking in the jungle.


  • Still to be seen: Howler monkeys and night monkeys.
  • Time left in jungle: 3 weeks.
  • Chances of seeing all monkeys on my list: looking pretty good.


But if you’re wondering why would I travel halfway around the world for some monkeys then grab a mug, lean a little closer and prepare to become a monkvert (a monkey convert) with some facts about our primate cousins living in the MLC jungle.

Cute faced squirrel monkeys on the rampage...


The blueprint of Bolivian squirrel monkeys


Fun fact: These squirrel monkeys are known to spread urine on their hands and feet, marking the trail through the tree tops for other monkeys in their group to follow.

  • Found in: West to Central South America
  • Weight: Less than a kilo (around 950 grams)
  • Group size: Large (40 - 50, sometimes up to 200)


Night monkeys for novices


Fun fact: Night monkeys are monogamous with many of them having the same partner for their whole lives.

  • This species are understudied and still rather mysterious. However, you can read about what it takes to study night monkeys in a recent article by recent volunteer and School for Field Studies member, Sheridan.
  • As their name suggests, night monkeys are nocturnal
  • Group size: 2-5


Image © Bethan John


The ‘how-to’ of Bolivian red howler monkeys


Fun fact: Male Bolivian red howler monkeys are known to kill young offspring after taking over a new group of females so that they are ready to mate again more quickly (okay, this one’s not exactly ‘fun’ but it’s definitely interesting!)

  • Found in: North-West South America
  • Bolivian reds are the largest of the nine howler species
  • Their call can be heard from a kilometre away (and we often hear it booming through the forest - a sure fire way to make everyone stop in their tracks!)
  • Weight: 7-9 kilos


Grey wooly monkey 101


Fun fact: Wooly monkeys have prehensile tails, which means that can use them like a limb

  • Found in: Central South America
  • Weight: 4-10 kilograms


Image © Bethan John


Basics of brown capuchins


Fun fact: These Olympic-worthy monkeys can jump as far as 9 metres

  • Found in: North, East and Central South America
  • Individuals are often seen in a group of squirrel monkeys
  • Weight: 3-4.5 kilograms
  • Group Size: 8-14


So now you are a monkvert, go and see them in the wild too, protect them and their habitats and impress your mates on your next road trip with all your fun facts about monkeys. Alternatively, come on over to South America and become a jungle girl too.