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Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) Fact Sheet: Summary

Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) Fact Sheet

Geleda family

Gelada (Theropithecus gelada)

Image credit: © Shaylib from FlickrSome rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical 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 & Status Behavior & 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 (2018 assessment)

CITES Status: Appendix II

Population in Wild: No recent population surveys. Very rough estimates of 200,000 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 & Development Species 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

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: average life expectancy of about 12 years for males, 14 years for females
Managed care: typical life span of about 20 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. 
  • Have an unusual diet, which closely resembles that of a horse.
  • Family units of up to 1,200, are composed of a single adult male, two or more females and their offspring.
  • Overall range has eroded due to agricultural expansion
  • Civil war makes scientific fieldwork in Ethiopia difficult; much about geladas remains unknown.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2015-2020 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. IUCN Status updated Oct 2020.

How to cite: Gelada (Theropithecus gelada)  Fact Sheet. c2015-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. gelada.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 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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