Uakari: The Red-Faced Monkey of the Amazon

This bizarre looking monkey is one of the New World monkeys and is found in the western Amazon of Peru and Brazil. It has a short tail and long golden fur, but its most amazing feature is its head, which is not only bald but bright red. The red coloring is not a pigment like that seen in baboons but is in fact a lack of pigment. The Uakari has so little fat under its skin and is so full of capillaries that the blood shows through to make it red-faced.

The coloring is also useful during mating season when it is a sign of health for those seeking partners. All the Uakaris travel in smallish family groups of between 5 to 50 members, but there have been groups as large as 100 in forested habitats close to water. Omniverous, they will eat insects but prefer to stick to fruit, nuts and seeds.

Although Uakaris are listed as vulnerable, this is actually a better status than it had in 1994 when they were listed as endangered. Habitat destruction is a major problem due to logging as well as hunting. A number of conservation efforts have been made, most notably the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Amazone-Andes Conservation program, which protects seven landscapes in Central and South America.

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