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“Smiling” drill monkeys?

Did you know that Zoo Atlanta is the only zoo in North America with drill monkeys?! Our troop of drills consists of our male, named Enwe, and three females named Achi, Drew and Amaka.  Enwe is 19, Achi is 21, Drew is 24, and Amaka is 19 years old, and all were born at Zoo Atlanta. Drill monkeys typically live into their mid-20s; however, with excellent zoological care, they  can live into their early 30s. Wild drill monkeys are found in Nigeria, Cameroon, and on a small Island off the coast of Africa, called Bioko Island.

An interesting behavior seen in drill monkeys is a behavior known as an appeasement grin.  In other primate species, baring teeth is a threat as they show off how big and dangerous their canines are. However, for drill monkeys, a smile is a friendly greeting between individuals. At Zoo Atlanta, our drill troop can often be seen smiling at each other on habitat. The female’s smiles are small and sometimes hard to see, however, Enwe has one of the most beautiful smiles! Enwe will smile with his care team, veterinarians, and even our Maintenance Team. As he smiles, he raises the hair on the top of his head and tilts his head back and forth to make sure you see every inch of his pearly whites. This behavior allows animal caretakers and veterinary staff to get a clear look at his incisors and canine teeth so we can monitor the health of his teeth and gums. Next time you visit Zoo Atlanta, be sure to stop by the Monkeys of Makokou habitat, and you may just get a glimpse of Enwe’s smile.

(photo: Morgan W.)

Kathryn G.
Keeper III, Primates

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl