Fun Gelada Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Amazing Gelada facts are for kids and adults, for all to enjoy

Geladas, pronounced as ge-lay-das are also known as the bleeding-heart baboons. They are an old-world monkey species residing in the Ethiopian highlands and mountains.

These primates have largely inhabited the high altitude region of the Semien Mountains in large groups. Although they are a type of monkey, geladas are commonly called baboons as they belong to the genus Theropithecus.

Geladas are the only members surviving in the genus Theropithecus. These grass-feeding animals help to aerate the soil in the places they feed by digging grass rhizomes or roots.

The individual members of the complex group of geladas have a particular role assigned to them. They maintain a female-centric society where the females are the main caretakers of the group.

The male leader carries the responsibility of reproduction and the other male members provide protection to the herd. Geladas reach sexual maturity after three years of age.

They are divided into two subspecies called the northern gelada and the southern gelada. The northern gelada skull is slightly bigger than the southern one and otherwise, there is no such dissimilarity between the two species.

As their population is depleting, they are being reserved in a few national parks. To gain more information about this wonderful animal, check out these interesting facts about geladas.

For similar content check out woolly monkey and patas monkey facts too.

Gelada Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gelada?

A gelada Theropithecus is a kind of monkey belonging to the species of the old world monkey with some distinct similarities to a baboon. That's why they are also known as gelada baboons.

What class of animal does a gelada belong to?

Gelada baboons belong to the class Mammalia of animals.

How many geladas are there in the world?

In 1970, aerial surveys confirmed the presence of roughly 500,000 geladas in Ethiopia. However, their population has decreased in the past. Surveys are being conducted to determine the current population.

Where does a gelada live?

Geladas live in an area that is quite different from the other terrestrial primates present in the world. They are also known to be the most terrestrial primates.

They live in the high mountain meadows present in Ethiopia. These primate monkeys are excellent rock climbers which help them with the fact that they reside in such high mountain areas by steep rocky cliffs. Geladas are present only in the Ethiopian grasslands of the Semien mountains.

On the Ethiopian plateau, they are found in the northern part of the Awash River, towards the south of Tacazze River, and east of the Blue Nile River. This species is typically found near gorges and rocky cliffs.

What is a gelada's habitat?

A gelada's preferable habitat mainly includes deep gorges and high grassland. They are found exclusively on the Ethiopian highlands at an elevation of 5900–14400 ft (1,800–4,400 m) above the sea level around the Simien Mountains.

They sleep on the cliffs and graze and forage on the bushy grasslands that are full of trees. Geladas prefer to live on the cooler highlands which are less arid than the lower lands so they do not face any problems regarding food availability.

Who do geladas live with?

Geladas live in a multi-level complex society. The first group and the most basic one consists of neutral gelada families.

This group either includes one or a few male geladas, 2-10 female geladas, and their offsprings are known as the reproductive unit, or an all-male unit consisting of 1-15 male geladas. Several reproductive units and the all-male units combine together to form the next group which is known as a band.

These bands may sometimes consist of 1200 individuals. Geladas travel in these bands during the day in search of food.

Few such bands merge together to form an entire gelada community. As they are able to live in such large groups, they account for being one of the most social primate groups in the world.

How long does a gelada live?

On average, a healthy and fit gelada has an average lifespan of 15 years. If a gelada is held in captivity, it can even live up to 28 years old.

How do they reproduce?

The species of gelada does not have any particular mating season. They mate any time of the year given a sexually matured female gelada of a reproductive unit is ready to breed.

This process takes place commonly around mid-day. A new gelada baby is born at night.

A female gelada is sexually mature at three years old but starts to reproduce after one or two years from sexual maturity. They have some distinctive mating rituals.

They include alert calls to the male, flashing their pale eyelids to the male gelada by raising the forehead, and exposing the gum and teeth, or rolling the lips, known as gelada lip flip in a threatening manner.

Also, if the red patch of a female gelada's chest changes its color to bright red, it means they are ready to mate.

The gestation period in gelada monkeys lasts for a range of five to six months and the lactation period lasts for a range of 12-18 months. Females give birth to one infant at a time.

What is their conservation status?

The species of gelada is considered as a species of Least Concern in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Their population has started to reduce for quite some time.

The main threats that these primate monkeys face are a decrease in their range as a result of increased agricultural lands. They were also hunted for commercial purposes or taken to laboratories for research purposes. The Indeltu (Shebelle) Gorges Reserve and the Blue Nile Gorges National Park have proposed the conservation of these animals and their habitat.

Gelada Fun Facts

What do geladas look like?

The gelada (Theropithecus) is a large species of primates who appears as baboons but are actually monkeys. This long, coarse-haired primate is the only grazing monkey present in the world.

The tail ends in a tuft of hair and an adult male has a cape on its back that is in high demand. The hair on a gelada's body is black in color. They have a clear and hairless face that resembles a chimpanzee more than a baboon.

They also have distinguished bright red skin on the chest. This patch on the gelada chest is hourglass-shaped. The males have a brighter patch than the females whose patch brightens only when they enter the estrus stage and it's also characterized by the formation of blisters.

A gelada's diet mainly contains grass and they lead a terrestrial lifestyle for which they have gone through several adaptations. They have small sturdy fingers that are best suited for plucking and pulling grass.

The menacing canines of the gelada baboon teeth are similar to all other baboon cousins. The small and narrow gelada teeth help them to chew their food properly.

The gelada's rump remains hidden beneath a gait. This gait is used during feeding. However, the red chest is still properly visible.

The gelada baboon is a diurnal animal.

How cute are they?

Often referred to as a baboon, the gelada is an old-world monkey that is very rare. The babies look very cute and are carried by the females on their backs. As they grow older, their eyes and the red patch make them a bit evil looking but they do not pose any harm if they are not threatened.

How do they communicate?

Geladas communicate by making different sounds or by visual expressions. They can make a huge number of sounds and each has a different meaning which is understood by their community.

Visual communications include a change in facial expressions as well as changes in body posture. During the estrus period, the females and the males have particular signals like reddening of the chest patch in females which means they are ready to mate.

How big is a gelada?

The size of the male and the female population of the species is generally close but sometimes the males appear larger due to the golden-colored hair of a male gelada present on the back and shoulders. The length of the body of geladas ranges from 20-30 in (50-75 cm) and the tail length is 12-20 in (30-50 cm).

They are smaller in size compared to the deadliest monkeys called mandrils.

How fast can a gelada move?

Geladas move in groups consisting of males and females together. These robust animals walk at a relaxed pace mainly in the morning to graze on grass. If they face predators like wolves or foxes, they run in several directions to protect themselves.

How much does a gelada weigh?

The females weigh about 24 lb (10.8 kg) and the males weigh about 40 lb (18.1 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The species of gelada do not have any particular name for its males and females. However, they have a famous nickname called the bleeding-heart baboons owing to the red patch on their chest.

What would you call a baby gelada?

As geladas belong to the species of monkeys, their babies are referred to as infants.

What do they eat?

A gelada falls under the list of graminivorous animals which means their diet mainly contains grass blades. They are ancient grazing primates who sit and chew on grass and herb the entire day.

Are they aggressive?

A gelada is a herbivorous animal that does not mean to harm other animals or their human visitors even though their fiery eyes and sharp canine teeth can give them an aggressive appearance.

Would they make a good pet?

It is unlikely to pet a gelada monkey. They are also not commonly available animals that can be found easily. They only live in the wild in the Ethiopian Semien Mountains. However, when they were held in captivity for research purposes, a significant increase in their average lifespan was noticed by the animal husbandry department.

Did you know...

A herd of a gelada can contain up to 1200 individuals being one of the largest groups of primates to exist.

How do gelada baboons live on cliffs?

Geladas are social animals who live on the steep cliffs of the mountains of Ethiopia. They have some featured adaptations in their fingers and claws which make them adept rock climbers.

At night, both males and females sleep on the cliff ledges together. As soon as the sun rises this group of males and females leave the cliffs to travel to the grassland areas for grazing and feeding and again come back to their respective habitat after sunset.

What is the social structure of gelada baboons?

A gelada is a grass-eating social animal that lives in a multilevel complex social structure. The basic reproductive unit contains one male individual and four or five females with which the male has the exclusive right to reproduce. This structure is called a harem.

The male leader of the harem is more than nine years old. The females are the natural caretakers of the group. A male gelada from the male units who looks for a harem is younger.

The leaders are defeated in fights by other males of the harem. The ex-leader stays in the herd after being defeated and looks after his babies like a normal follower.

The females stay in the same unit for life, unlike the males. The small units combine together to form a bigger group called bands. Few such bands form a complete herd.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Hamadryas baboon, or tarsier.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our gelada coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Shray Sharma

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

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Shray SharmaBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

As an aspiring web and app developer, Shray has a passion for working with promising startups. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Maharaja Surajmal Institute Of Technology while gaining experience in digital marketing. Shray has already earned a Google Analytics Certification and is well-equipped to handle analytics and data management tasks. He has also served as a marketing manager at Parallax Virtual Arts, where he oversaw the company's social media, content, and SEO strategies. Shray's goal is to create engaging content that resonates with audiences and offers valuable insights.

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