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Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) Fact Sheet, 2015   Tags: africa, fact sheet, gelada, mammal, monkey, sdzg  

Last Updated: May 31, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) Fact Sheet, 2015

Image credit: Shaylib from FlickrSome rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Cercopithecidae

Genus: Theropithecus

Species: Theropithecus gelada - gelada

Subspecies: T. g. gelada - northern gelada
Subspecies: T. g. obscurus- southern gelada

Body Weight
Male: 16.5-20.5 kg (36.4-45.2 lb)
Female: 8.3-13.8 kg (18.3-30.4 lb)

Body Length
Male: 690-740 mm (2.3-2.4 ft)
Female: 500-650 mm (1.6-2.1 ft)

Tail Length
Male: 460-500 mm (1.5-1.6 ft)
Female: 320-640 mm (1.0-2.1 ft)

Pelage: Course, wiry hair; shade ranges from pale brown to near black. Males with long, thick mane that extends to the shoulders. Bright red, bare skin on the neck and chest shaped as an hour-glass. Buttocks hairless and calloused.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Central Ethiopian plateau. Distribution bound by the Blue Nile River to the west and the Wabe Shebelle valley to the south. Three regionally isolated populations; the primary population inhabits the area south of Lake Tana and east of the Takkazzé River.

Habitat: High montane grasslands; never far from sharp escarpment edges, which provide shelter from predators and serve as locations for sleeping. 

IUCN Status: Least Concern* (version 3.1); assessed in 2008. Though rare, no known factors that might contribute to a significant range-wide
decline. *2017 petition to change IUCN status to Endangered.

CITES Appendix: II

Population in Wild: No recent population surveys. In Simien Mountain National Park, c. 2460-2650 individuals.

Locomotion: Terrestrial animals walk and run quadrupedally along the ground. Scoot with hindquarters along the ground while foraging. 

Activity Cycle: Diurnal. In morning, ascend cliff-face to tops to feed. Travel slowly to feed along ridges before descending the cliff-sides to seek shelter and sleep at night. 

Social Groups: Form stable social groups. One-male units (OMUs) or harems are composed of a  single, adult male, several mature females, and their offspring. Sub-adult and adult males without females form all-male groups whose members cooperate to harass OMU leaders.

Diet: Vegetarians; primarily consume grass.

Predators: Few large carnivores within the species' distribution. Leopard (Panthera pardus), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), humans and domestic dogs. Raptors may prey on the young.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males c. 8-9 years; females c.
3-4 years

Gestation: 5.5-6 months

Litter Size: 1 infant, typically

Birth Weight: none reported

Age at Weaning: 12-18 months

Longevity: In the wild, 14-15 years; oldest individual in captivity lived for over 35 years.

Feature Facts: Tough, baboon-like monkeys make their living on the steep cliffs of the Ethiopian Highlands. Bright red patches of bare skin on the throat and chest add to the animal's distinctive character. Their unique appearance is matched by their unusual diet, which closely resembles that of a horse. Highly dexterous fingers pluck green grasses as the animal forages, seated on its rump and shuffling from one spot to another. Large herds of individuals skirt cliff edges in the daytime and huddle together on sheer rock faces at night. Large associations of as many as 1,200 individuals are composed of numerous family units, and bachelors. These family units, known as one-male units, are composed of a single adult male, two or more females and their offspring. Females form strong bonds with one another and often remain within the same one-male unit for life, even after the death or overthrow of the group's male leader. Civil war makes scientific fieldwork in Ethiopia difficult; much about geladas remains unknown.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2015 San Diego Zoo Global.

How to cite: Gelada (Theropithecus gelada)  Fact Sheet, 2015. c2015. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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