Equatorial region of western Africa


Primarily rain forest

Big and brilliant

Endangered monkeys from Africa, mandrills are one of the largest monkey species in the world. They are related to baboons but live in the more heavily forested areas of Africa. Their furry head crest, mane, and beard are quite impressive, but what will really get your attention is their bright coloration: mandrills have thick ridges along the nose that are purple and blue, their nose and lips are red, and their beard is golden.

An adult male mandrill that has the brightest and most distinctive red, blues, lavender, and gold on his face and fur is thought to be most attractive to females. But that's not all—those bright colors show up again on the mandrill’s rear end! Why? Probably for displays, but also so mandrills can follow each other in thick forests. Adult females have duller colors and longer muzzles. They are also much smaller, about half the size of the adult males.

Save some for later

Mandrills come equipped with their own built-in carryout containers! They have large cheek pouches inside their mouth that they can stuff full of food to eat at a later time. Sometimes they take their goodies to a safer location before enjoying them. Mandrills spend most of their time on the ground, foraging for seeds, nuts, fruits, and small animals.

At the San Diego Zoo, the mandrills are offered leaf eater biscuits, assorted fruits (such as apples, grapes, melons), vegetables (green beans, corn, eggplant), and greens (cabbage, lettuce, kale). Enrichment treats can include raisins, popcorn, and peanuts.

Mandrills are also known as forest baboons.
The character Rafiki in Disney's "The Lion King" is referred to as a baboon. But take a closer look, and you'll see he has the colorful face of a mandrill.

The San Diego Zoo's first mandrills arrived in 1923. Today, the Zoo is home to three mandrills living along the Monkey Trail in Lost Forest.

Mandrills are most closely related to and share a habitat with drills Mandrillus leucophaeus. Drills are one of the most critically endangered primates in Africa. Conservation organizations are working to protect mandrill habitat from illegal logging and the bushmeat trade; bushmeat is the hunting of wildlife species for food and trade. The illegal bushmeat trade is the most critical threat to both drills and mandrills. By protecting habitat, populations of both these species can be saved.