Save the Biggest Monkey | God's World News

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Save the Biggest Monkey
Critter File
Posted: September 01, 2023
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    A northern muriqui monkey hangs from a branch in southeastern Brazil. (Leonardo Mercon/VWPics via AP)
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    Karen Strier has studied muriquis for decades. (Joao Marcos Rosa/NITRO/AP)
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    A northern muriqui jumps from a tree in Caratinga, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. (AP/Bruna Prado)
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    A northern muriqui eats a banana in a protected area of forest in Lima Duarte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. (AP/Bruna Prado)
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    Biologist Clariane Caroline de Araujo climbs onto a platform to feed a group of northern muriqui monkeys in Lima Duarte, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. (AP/Bruna Prado)
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Emerald-green branches rustle. Golden-gray monkeys sweep through their tropical home in Brazil’s Atlantic forest.

Meet the northern muriqui (MOOR-ih-kee) monkeys. And be glad you did, because these ultra-rare monkeys were almost extinct!

An American primatologist (a person who studies monkeys and apes) named Karen Strier has spent much of her lifetime saving the muriqui. “I love everything about them,” she says. “They’re beautiful animals. They’re graceful.” She claims they even smell good, like cinnamon.

When Dr. Strier first saw the monkeys, scientists knew almost nothing about them—except that they were nearly gone. Almost all their forest home had been destroyed.

Dr. Strier spent 14 months in the rainforest. She learned:

  • They eat only plants.
  • As the biggest monkeys in the Americas, they can grow up to five feet from head to tail and weigh about 33 pounds.
  • Muriquis can live up to 45 years. But females can give birth only every three years. It will take time to fill the forest with muriqui babies again.
  • The monkeys are peaceful. When there’s a contest for food, water, or a female, males don’t fight. They wait, avoid one another, or hug.
  • Muriquis are “forest gardeners.” They eat fruits from high trees that many other animals cannot reach. Seeds spread through muriqui poop onto the forest floor.

Dr. Strier kept watching . . . for 40 years! She runs a research program in the forest. The area started with only 50 muriquis. Eventually, it had 232.

Team members at the reserve know each monkey by name. They don’t mark the animals or tag them. Instead, they make detailed drawings of their faces.

The monkeys still have troubles though. Drought and yellow fever killed 100 muriquis in just five years. And Dr. Strier says they still need more space in the forest.

Every beast of the forest is mine. — Psalm 50:10

Why? Long, patient work can make a big difference in the lives of God’s creatures. This applies in many areas—from science and conservation to ministry!