Monkeys and apes are mammals that give birth to babies instead of laying eggs the way birds and reptiles do. Numerous species of apes and monkeys live in warmer climates in rain forests and jungle locations. Most wild monkeys and apes live on the continents of South America or Africa. However, a few species live in Asia or secluded islands. Research scientists frequently study primates to understand how the animals care for infants in native habitats. Of course, there are also many zoos or sanctuaries where a scientist can watch how apes and monkey care for infants.
Apes and monkeys usually live in cooperative groups in order to search for food and avoid predators. Mothers living in these groups often receive assistance from other members in caring for babies. This activity is unusual in many animal species but has several advantages in helping babies to survive. In addition, most monkeys and apes give birth to only one infant at a time making it easier to provide long-term care. Because only one infant is born at time to a mother, it receives a lot of individualized attention.
Cleaning a Baby’s Skin
Chimpanzee mothers often have babies late at night in a secluded area away from the other members of a group. After the baby is born, the mother will hold the infant and gently clean its hair and skin. Grooming is an important part of the bonding process for the mother and infant. This behavior also helps the infant and mother to recognize each other’s particular scent. Understanding the scent is important for chimpanzees because it assists in location when it is too dark to see. Because chimpanzees are a mammal, the mother nurses the infant for several months until it can eat regular food.
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... to prevent infestation from dangerous parasites. Mothers nurse an infant several times a day for approximately one year. A male baboon will leave its cooperative birth group as it grows older to find mates in other groups. However, females remain with the same group their entire lives.
Spider monkeys have extremely long arms, legs and tails that help them to travel through treetops. This new world monkey lives in social groups as protection from predators including humans. Approximately every three years, an adult female will give birth to one infant. Mothers carry infants on their stomachs or back while it nurses. A baby spider monkey holds onto its mother with its strong prehensile tail. As the baby grows older, it will begin to look for different food sources. Male spider monkeys never assist with caring for infants within the cooperative groups.