Dangerous wild animals: species guidance

Individual species guidance on the keeping of dangerous wild animals.

Old world monkeys: baboons, guenons and macaques

Species names

Family cercopithecidae (old world monkeys)

Additional information

Members of the cercopithecidae family include baboons, colobus monkeys, the gelada, guenons, langurs, leaf monkeys, macaques, the mandrill, mangabeys, the patas monkey, the proboscis monkey and the talapoin.

Conservation status

Some members of the cercopithecidae family are classified as Annex A species under EC Regulation 338/97 (relating to the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)).  

Special permits must be obtained to buy, sell, breed or use Annex A species for any commercial purpose.

Housing overview

Monkeys are social animals and should be kept in groups if at all possible. A stable group structure is important for the welfare of the animals, and the behavioural development of any young.

They may be given free access to an indoor sleeping area and outdoor enclosure, but it is recommended that they be shut in during the night for security reasons.

Keeping experience

In order to protect the welfare of these animals and to protect keeper safety, keepers must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of husbandry and handling of the species they wish to keep.  

There should be a second named person on the licence who is competent to care for the animals should the owner be absent or incapacitated.

Housing recommendations


The old world monkeys are strong climbers and are capable of dextrous manipulation and intelligent thought. Enclosures must therefore be extremely secure to ensure that these animals are not able to escape.

In outdoor enclosures, there should be a natural dirt or planted substrate if possible.


Fencing for enclosures must be strong enough to withstand the weight of the monkeys climbing on it or jumping against it, and the mesh size used must be small enough to prevent the animals becoming entangled. Enclosures must be a minimum of 2.5m high, and should have a secure roof.

The fencing should be set into concrete foundations to prevent the monkeys digging underneath.

There should be sufficient perches and shelters for all the animals to use them at the same time.


A family group of one adult male, two females and two juveniles requires as a minimum:

  • height - 2.5m
  • length and width - no less than five times the maximum head and body length of an adult male of the species to be kept. For example, for a family group of lion-tailed macaques, the minimum recommended enclosure size would be approximately 3m x 3m x 2.5m

Temperature and shelter

These monkeys require a temperature of between 18 to 29°C. If the temperature drops below this level, heating should be provided in a shelter accessible to the animals at all times.  

Some individuals may still enjoy exercise outside in colder weather conditions.

Shelters must be provided in outdoor enclosures as shade from the sun.


These monkeys are most active during the day. Natural daylight is recommended, however additional lighting may be required in indoor nest boxes to allow adequate cleaning and maintenance. 


Enclosed holding quarters should have some suitable form of ventilation. Humidity should be maintained at 40 to 60%.


The drainage of the outdoor enclosures must be capable of rapidly removing all excess water. Drains should be designed to avoid injury to the animals. Any open drains, other than those carrying surface water, should be outside the enclosure. Any faecal material must be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

For indoor enclosures the floor covering should be changeable or easily cleaned.


Outdoor enclosures should be maintained in a clean state, with faeces, food debris and litter being removed on a daily basis. Indoor housing, including perches and shelves where animals sit, should also be cleaned regularly.

It is recommended that a separate holding enclosure be incorporated to allow the keeper to enter safely to clean and maintain the main enclosure.

Social dynamics and behavioural considerations

Cercopithecid monkeys should be kept in social groups, ideally comprising of one adult male, several adult females and associated young.

Prevention of escape

The animals must be secured in a holding pen that can be operated from outside, before a keeper enters the enclosure. A double door must always be used to prevent the animals escaping past the keeper as the gate is opened. 

The public must not be able to gain access to the perimeter of the enclosure - this may require the erection of a secondary fence. Signs warning of the danger should be erected.

Food, drink and bedding

Cercopithecid monkeys will eat a mixture of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and insects in addition to a commercial prepared diet.

Fresh drinking water must be provided at all times. Water dispensers should be cleaned and disinfected daily.

Some form of bedding, such as straw or shredded paper, should be provided in indoor shelters.

Visiting interval

The animals must be monitored at appropriate intervals, normally at least once every 24 hours.

Exercise and enrichment

The provision of enrichment is important for this species. All old world monkeys are strong climbers, very active and capable of dextrous manipulation. Enclosures should be made as interesting as possible.

Enrichment items could include raised walkways, ropes and perches. The provision of non-toxic play items such as tree branches, or novel feeding methods, is also recommended to provide stimulation.

The use of natural planting or straw as an outdoor ground cover can allow the monkeys to express their natural foraging behaviour if feed is scattered into it.

Provision for capture and transportation

There should be some method of enclosing the animals into a holding pen, to allow the safe cleaning of the enclosure and the administration of veterinary treatment. The door mechanisms for these holding pens should be operable from outside the enclosure. 

Veterinary treatment should be provided on-site.

A licence, issued by the local authority, for the keeping of these animals may specify restrictions on the movement of these animals and procedures to be followed.

Emergency planning

There should be a written contingency plan in place to be used in the event of an emergency, for example fire, flood, animal escape or injury to the keeper.

Notification requirements

The licence may also specify procedures to be followed in the event of an escape and on the provision of information to the emergency services.

You are required to notify the local authority of any intentions to breed the animals.

Prevention and control of spread of infectious disease

Some provision should be made to allow the separation of sick or injured animals if a group is kept.

The keeper should provide details of their veterinary arrangements with a practice prepared to treat these animals. A schedule of veterinary care, including vaccination and routine parasite control is required, and the keeping of records of veterinary attention is essential. These animals are susceptible to human diseases, including the common cold.

Animals acquired from outside the UK may be subject to rabies quarantine regulations. Anyone requiring further information should contact APHA.

There are no transmissible diseases carried by these animals that pose a risk to the general public as long as there is no direct contact, and visitors are not allowed to handle the animals or their by-products.





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