Zoos Victoria Zoos Victoria
What is a Primate?
The mammalian order Primates incorporates many varied animals including lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, orang-utans, Siamangs and humans. A primate is defined as an animal that has the most of a set of ‘primate’ characteristics. These characteristics include:
- Opposable thumbs
- Divergent big toe, often opposable
- Digits with nails
- Forward-facing eyes
- Posterior protection of the orbit
- Relatively large brain
- Relatively long gestation
- Relatively slow post-natal growth, late sexual maturity and long life span
Primates can be divided into six ‘natural’ groupings.
- New World Monkeys e.g. Capuchins, Spider Monkeys and Marmosets
- Old World Monkeys e.g. Baboons, Mandrill and Lion-tailed Macaque
- Apes e.g. orang-utans, Siamangs and Humans
Find out more about Melbourne Zoo’s orang-utans (Santan, Mai, Malu, Gabby, Kiani) and Siamangs (Isidor, Sampit).