Lion-tailed Macaque



    Macaca silenus
    Tropical Forests


The Asian Sanctuary

About the Lion-tailed Macaque

Have a quick glance at any of our Lion-tailed Macaque troop and you will understand where their name comes from! Few other primates have such a striking characteristic as a mane of silver-white hair around their cheeks and chin and the similarities continue to the tail, which has a black tuft of fur at the end – just like that of a lion.


The Lion-tailed Macaque is one of 16 Macaques species, which have an extensive home range stretching from Gibraltar to Japan. However, this particular primate is confined to tiny, isolated pockets of evergreen tropical forest in the Western Ghat Mountains in India.

Wild Notes

The Lion-tailed Macaque is considered to be omnivorous, eating mainly fruit, insects, eggs as well as small animals on occasion. It even uses special cheek pouches to store food while foraging.

The Macaque lives in groups of between ten and 20 individuals with one dominant male taking responsibility for leading the entire troop. Young males leave at the onset of maturity and join bachelor groups, while young females form strong bonds with their mother and usually remain within their natal group. Females give birth every 3-4 years and the species can live up to 20 years of age in the wild and about 30 years in captivity.


With less than 2,500 individuals remaining in the wild and about 400 more in zoos, the Lion-tailed Macaque is one of the most Endangered species in the world today. Also hunted for its meat and fur, only 1% of their original habitat remains – because of timber harvesting and agriculture – and as their population numbers continue to decrease, Europe’s captive population now makes up 14% of the entire group left on the planet.

Did You Know?

The Lion-tailed Macaque is so well adapted to its forest home that it simply cannot adjust to the new habitats being created by human intrusion. Although they don’t often come to the ground, they are actually excellent swimmers and are quadrupedal in that they walk on all four limbs.

The Fota Connection.

Situated in the Asian Sanctuary, the Lion-tailed Macaque has thrived since arriving at Fota. The group is now one of the biggest in Europe and has one dominant male along with two distinct families, each with their own dominant female.

Smaller groups of juveniles are active throughout the day and are always playing, swinging and getting into trouble! The troop is part of a critically-important breeding programme, given how rare the animal now is in the wild, and eat monkey chow, freshly-chopped produce and nuts. They also steal bird eggs and gather crabs from the lake.



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