Ape & Primate Watch

Aaron Steffen, 9, enjoys the Primates of the World building at the Milwaukee County Zoo during winter.

Become a scientist when you visit the Milwaukee County Zoo this winter. Stay inside and keep warm as you go through the Primates of the World building and observe the animals. The building connects with the Stearns Family Apes of Africa Pavilion. There you can view the bonobos and western lowland gorillas. The Zoo is not crowded in winter. So it’s the perfect time to spend several minutes watching each of the primates. Like a scientist, you can make careful observations and write down what primates eat, how they play, if they bite or fight. See the Be a Scientist: Animal Watch activity below.

The two buildings have monkeys and apes. Can you tell the difference between an ape and a monkey? One difference is that apes don’t have tails. What other differences do you notice? Find the answers to these questions in the two buildings:

A. List the FOUR apes in the buildings:*

1. ________________
2. ________________
3. ________________
4. ________________

B. List all the monkeys in the two buildings:*


C. What kind of a primate is the mandrill?*


Be a Scientist: Animal Watch

Aaron Steffen watches mandrills

Have you ever watched primates at play? Aaron Steffen watches a female mandrill “groom” a male. Groom means to pick through the hair to clean it or look for insects. See what other behaviors you can spot primates doing at the Zoo.

Print out 10 of the following lists and take them with you to the Zoo with a clipboard. Stand in front of each ape or monkey exhibit for five minutes. For every exhibit, list how many times you see each of the activities below. Then move to the next exhibit and use another check-off sheet. When you’re done, you can compare which animals chased a lot or groomed more, etc.

Type of animal __________________________
(spider monkey, gorilla, etc.)

___ Climbed on ropes.
___ Climbed treelike structures or in branches
___ Played with another animal by cuddling or rolling around.
___ Ate some food.        List what kinds? ________________
___ Groomed another primate. (Picked through its hair).
___ Was groomed by another primate.
___ Groomed itself.              ___ Scratched its body.
___ Ran.
___ Walked on four limbs.      ___ Walked on two legs.
___ Chased another primate.
___ Communicated with another primate through grunts or high-pitched yells.

Other observations you made: ______________________________________

* Answers

Activities by Noelle Steffen