Sapajus apella



Scientific name: Sapajus apella (Sapajus apella macrocephalus)
English names: Tufted capuchin (Large-headed capuchin)
Spanish and local names: Mono maicero, mono capuchino, mono silbador
At la Senda Verde: 71 individuals. Male Alpha: Ciruelo
Body weight: 1.9 to 4.8 kilograms (4.2 to 10.6 lb)
Body length: 32 to 57 centimetres (13 to 22 in)
Tail length: 38 to 56 centimetres (15 to 22 in)


Names & Taxonomy

Sapajus Apella or Tufted capuchin in English, has been the name of this species of primate for many years, though new research is suggesting Capuchins in Bolivia are a different species from their northern Sapajus Apella relatives, and should be called Sapajus Macrocephalus, or Large-headed capuchins. According to Bolivian primatologist Jesus Martinez of the Wildlife Conservation Society, it is unknown if there are actual morphologic differences between these subspecies, so its name should remain Sapajus Apella. The Capuchin filogenetic family is quite large; according to Wikipedia it comprises ten different species in two subfamily branches. Capuchins are close relatives to the Samiri family, the squirrel monkeys. In Bolivia there are three species of capuchins and at La Senda Verde we have two, tufted and white-fronted capuchins.


Tufted Capuchins are more powerfully built capuchins, with thicker fur and a wider tail. It has a bundle of long, hardened hair in the forehead sort of like a wig. It has a light brown belly lighter than the rest of its body; hands and feet are black. It has a very strong prehensile tail that uses as a fifth limb. Capuchins are very strong and have very sharp fangs with which they can inflict a lot of damage.

Habitat and Distribution

Capuchin monkeys and the Sapajus Apella species are believed to be the neotropical primate with the largest distribution that exists. Overlapping other species of capuchin monkeys, they inhabit most of the different tropical rainforests that exist within the amazon basin, which includes parts of the Guyanas, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Sapajus apella receives the common name of mono maicero “corn monkey” because in countries like Colombia they have adapted well to secondary forests and intervened habitats, including agricultural areas like corn fields for which they are considered by locals as a plague. The only habitat where this type of monkey does not adapt to is the flooded forest, to which its counterpart the front-headed capuchin adapts well. In Colombia Sapajus apella prefers more diverse forests than the front-headed counterpart, which can thrive in lesser diverse forests in sandy or rocky soils.

Life and Behaviour

Tufted capuchins tend to stay put in a territory of some 2 square kilometres in groups of around 16 members led by an alpha male and accompanied by mostly females, youngsters and few adult males that stay in the periphery. They are omnivorous, their diet being comprised of 50% insects, the rest small vertebrates and fruits that they find on the tree tops. S. apella unlike Cebus albifrons, prefers large trees to live and forage in, and will come down to the ground to drink water from streams when it’s not available in the trees. They have a wide variety of locomotive postures though the main one is using four legs. They will use their prehensile tail as an important anchor point to give them a better posture for feeding.

Tufted capuchins have many predators and the Alpha male tends to live longer and is the only member of the group that will confront potential threats, which can come from the ground, the trees and the air. Their four predators are the boa constrictor, the ocelot, the margay and the harpy eagle. They have a wide variety of vocal sounds and “whistles” they produce to communicate and to warn each other about predators, and is why they are locally called whistling monkeys or “Mono silbador” in Spanish.

Capuchin monkeys and especially alpha males are known for their aggressiveness and sexual lechery. In Bolivia they are seen accompanying squirrel monkey troops (Sapajus saguinous) to whom they provide protection in exchange of sexual, non-reproductive favours. At La Senda Verde, Ciruelo, the alpha capuchin, once raped the cat and has to be kept in a cage due to the harm he can inflict upon other animals at the sanctuary. Female volunteers are also not allowed in the alpha male cage due to the danger that he poses to them.


  • Capuchins can produce a long, human-like whistle with which they can be detected from a distance.
  • In Bolivia it has been observed that two Capuchin males will accompany squirrel monkey troops and offer them protection in exchange for sexual favours with the squirrel females, who scream and don’t seem to enjoy it.
  • Capuchin monkeys are considered the smartest of all neotropical primates. They can use tools to facilitate feeding.
  • Capuchin monkeys are still widely used for medical experimentation. What do you think about this?



Sapajus Apella Senda Verde

He is the first animal to arrive to La Senda Verde, he showed Vicky and Marcelo, Senda Verde’s owners, a new mission in life: to rescue animals from illegal wildlife trafficking and fight this crime through education. Learn more about Ciruelo in the story: The Libidinous that founded La Senda Verde.





1 Comment

  • Cory Knierim Posted September 25, 2018 5:09 am

    With thanks! Valuable information!


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