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Eastern black and white colobus monkey

Colobus guereza kikuyuensi

Black and white colobus monkeys are old world monkeys. This term describes monkeys from Africa and Asia.

These primates have distinctive black and white colouration with long white fur on the back and tail. Babies are born pure white and gradually change to their adult colour as they get older. It is not always the mother who carries her baby. In the wild, this gives the mother time to look for food offer younger members of the group the chance to practice at caring for a baby.

The word 'colobus' is a Greek word meaning 'mutilated'. This name refers to the fact that over time these monkeys have evolved and lost their thumb. This is often common amongst forest primates and is believed to allow the monkeys to travel more easily through tree branches.

Black and white colobus monkeys measure up to 72 centimetres and their tails can measure a further one metre. They can weigh up to 14 kilograms.

Belfast Zoo holds the studbook for the European breeding programmes for this species.

IUCN Status

The IUCN status of the Eastern black and white colobus monkey is least concern.

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  Fun fact Newborns are born with a pink face and white hair.

Animal class


Conservation status

The IUCN feels that there is not enough sufficient evidence to determine if the Black and white colobus monkeys are in fact facing extinction.


Forest and rainforest


Black and white colobus monkeys are in decline throughout the world. In protected parts of their range within Africa they are abundant.


Herbivore Colobus monkeys eat mainly leaves, fruit and flowers. They have a large stomach that contains special bacteria needed to break down the leaves in their diet. In the zoo they also eat a range of vegetables.