Humboldt’s woolly monkey

This wooly monkey’s skull is believed to have belonged to the same animal as the mounted specimen. This attractive piece of taxidermy was purchased from the well known London taxidermy firm Rowland Ward Ltd. The company was established in 1880 and had an excellent reputation for producing high quality mounts as well as publishing books on big game hunting.

It is a Humboldt’s woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha) from Brazil. Unsurprisingly, the animal gets the name ‘woolly’ from its short, dense, soft hair. These monkeys can move through the forest easily thanks to their long limbs and prehensile tail (it is capable of grasping and can act like another hand) that has a bald patch near the tip for extra grip. Sadly this species is now listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The use of arsenic in the preservation process helped to prevent insects feeding on the animal skins. However, many taxidermists were aware that arsenic is hazardous to human health too. James Rowland Ward was one of the first to stop using arsenic and devised his own insect repellent recipe that he believed to be safer. This specimen was purchased in 1939, after James’ death when the firm was run by J.B. Burlace.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Collection Area Region
South America
Collector Excavator
Common Name
Humboldt’s woolly monkey
Simple Name
mammal: skull and mandible

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ATELIDAE: Lagothrix lagotricha (Humboldt): Humboldt’s woolly monkey