Are There Monkeys in Hawaii? The Truth Behind This Mystery

Thousands of tourists visit the islands of Hawaii each year. It is not uncommon for them to wonder if there are monkeys in Hawaii. Monkeys have long been associated with tropical climates and island paradises, so it only makes sense to ask the question: Are there monkeys in Hawaii?

The answer is complicated as wild monkey populations do not exist on the Hawaiian Islands due to their geographic isolation from other landmasses; however, captive monkeys can be found living here.

This article explores what kinds of primates live on these islands, whether they’re native or introduced invasive species and will take a look at the history of monkey populations in Hawaii. Lastly, we will learn why they might hold special cultural significance for Hawaiians.

Table of Contents:

are there monkeys in Hawaii

What Kinds of Monkeys Live in Hawaii?

Monkeys are not native to the Hawaiian Islands, but there are several species of primates that can be found in Hawaii. The most common type of monkey is the Rhesus macaque, which was introduced to Hawaii in the late 19th century and is now considered an invasive species. Other types of monkeys found in Hawaii include:

  • squirrel monkeys
  • capuchins
  • marmosets
  • tamarins.

Types of Monkeys Found in Hawaii

Rhesus macaques are the most commonly seen monkey on the islands and they can be identified by their gray fur with black faces and white whiskers. They typically live near human settlements or agricultural areas where food sources such as fruits or nuts are available.

Squirrel monkeys have reddish-brown fur with white patches around their eyes and ears; they usually inhabit forests at higher elevations than rhesus macaques.

Capuchins have brownish-gray fur with lighter colored hands and feet; they prefer living close to water sources like streams or rivers for easy access to food supplies like insects or small fish.

Marmosets have yellowish-brown fur with dark stripes along their backs; they tend to live in trees near forest edges where fruit trees provide sustenance for them during times when other food sources may be scarce.

Tamarins have orange-brown fur with white markings on their faces; these primates generally reside within dense vegetation away from humans so it’s difficult to spot them unless you know what you’re looking for.

Where To Find Monkeys In Hawaii

Rhesus macaques can often be spotted near human settlements such as cities or towns since this is where they find plenty of food sources due to garbage cans being left open by people who don’t properly dispose of trash correctly (which isn’t good).

Squirrel monkeys tend to stay high up in mountains while capuchins prefer staying close by bodies of water such as streams or rivers since this provides them easy access for fishing opportunities if needed.

Marmosets also enjoy hanging out near fruit trees located at forest edges while tamarins will likely remain hidden deep within dense vegetation away from humans unless disturbed – then watch out because these guys aren’t afraid.

Is It Legal To Keep Monkeys As Pets In Hawaii?

Key Takeaway: It is illegal to keep monkeys as pets in Hawaii due to the potential risks they pose to native wildlife and humans, so it’s best to admire them from a distance.

Important Knowledge on Wild Monkeys in Hawaii

Though it may surprise some, the answer is yes. While there are no native species of monkeys on the Hawaiian Islands, a few non-native species have been introduced and now live wild in certain areas.

The most common type of monkey found in Hawaii is the rhesus macaque, which was brought to Oahu from India during World War II as part of an experiment by the U.S. Army. Since then, these primates have established themselves on several islands including Kauai and Maui.

Natural Habitats for Wild Monkeys in Hawaii:

The majority of wild monkeys living in Hawaii can be found on Oahu’s North Shore near Kahana Valley State Park and Waimea Valley Audubon Center & Botanical Garden where they inhabit tropical forests and grasslands at elevations ranging from sea level to over 2,000 feet above sea level. These monkeys also frequent beaches along this coastline where they feed on fruit trees that grow near residential neighborhoods or tourist attractions such as Laie Point State Wayside Park or Turtle Bay Resort Golf Course.

Other populations can be found further inland near Kokee State Park or Polihale Beach Park located within Kauai’s Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Area; while still others inhabit mountainous regions around Haleakala National Park on Maui Island or Kalalau Trail along Kauai’s Napali Coastline.

How to Spot Wild Monkeys In Hawaii:

Wild monkeys are typically active during the day when they search for food or socialize with other members of their troop. To spot them, one must remain quiet and observant. If lucky enough to catch sight of a monkey, it will likely be between 8am-4pm as temperatures are cooler allowing them to travel greater distances without overheating due to their thick fur coats which insulate against cold weather but make hot climates difficult for long periods outdoors.

Potential Dangers Of Encountering Wild Monkeys In Hawaii:

Key Takeaway: It is possible to encounter wild monkeys in Hawaii, but caution should be taken when doing so as they can pose a danger. It is best to observe them from a distance and remain quiet.

Are There Captive Monkeys in Hawaii?

Hawaii is home to a variety of wildlife, including several invasive species of monkeys. While wild monkey populations are not native to the Hawaiian Islands, there are captive monkeys living in zoos and sanctuaries across the state.

Honolulu Zoo and Sanctuaries with Captive Monkeys in Hawaii:

There are numerous facilities that house captive monkeys throughout Hawaii. The Honolulu Zoo is home to several species of primates, including macaques, gibbons, capuchins, and spider monkeys. Additionally, many animal sanctuaries on the islands provide refuge for rescued or retired primates from around the world. These include Monkey Jungle Sanctuary in Maui and Big Island Primate Sanctuary near Hilo.

Regulations for Keeping Captive Monkeys in Hawaii:

In order to keep a primate as a pet or exhibit it publicly within the state of Hawaii, one must obtain an exotic animal permit from their local Department of Agriculture office. This permit requires proof that all necessary enclosures meet minimum standards set by law and that proper care will be provided for any animals kept under its jurisdiction.

Furthermore, those wishing to own a monkey must also have liability insurance coverage in case any harm comes to another person due to their ownership of said animal(s).

Key Takeaway: The Hawaiian Islands are home to a variety of captive monkeys, with zoos and sanctuaries across the state providing refuge for primates from around the world. However, in order to keep one as a pet or exhibit it publicly, an exotic animal permit must be obtained.

What is the History of Monkey Populations in Hawaii?

The first monkeys introduced to Hawaii were brought by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 when he gifted two small monkeys to King Kamehameha. It is believed that these two monkeys were kept as pets and never released into the wild.

In 1856, a group of rhesus macaques was released onto Oahu Island by an Englishman named William Littleton Powell. These macaques quickly spread throughout the island, establishing themselves in various habitats such as forests and urban areas. They became so abundant that they caused significant damage to crops and property, leading to calls for their eradication from some sectors of society.

In 1932, a colony of Java macaques was established on Kauai Island after being imported from Indonesia for medical research purposes at what is now known as the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Biogenesis Research (IBR). This colony has since grown significantly due to successful breeding programs conducted by researchers at IBR over many years.

Today, both species of monkey continue to thrive in Hawaii with large populations found across all major islands including Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Big Island. However their numbers have been decreasing due to habitat destruction caused by human activities such as logging and development projects which reduce available food sources for these animals.

Additionally there are concerns about potential diseases spreading between humans and non-native animal species like monkeys which could lead to further population declines if left unchecked.

Key Takeaway: The introduction of two monkey species to Hawaii has caused a significant population increase, but their numbers are now decreasing due to human-caused habitat destruction and potential disease spread.

What is the Cultural Significance of Monkeys to Hawaiians?

Monkeys have a long and varied history in Hawaiian culture. Traditional beliefs about monkeys vary from island to island, but they are generally seen as symbols of strength, intelligence, and good luck. Historical accounts describe interactions between Hawaiians and wild monkeys on the islands before contact with Europeans. Monkeys were sometimes kept as pets or even hunted for food by early Hawaiians.

Modern representations of monkeys in Hawaiian art and music often reflect traditional beliefs about their symbolic significance. For example, many artists depict them as protectors or guardians who bring good fortune to those who honor them properly. In some cases, monkey figures are used to represent gods or other spiritual entities in stories passed down through generations of native Hawaiians.

In addition to being represented in artwork and folklore, monkeys also appear frequently in modern Hawaiian music genres such as slack-key guitar and ukulele songs that draw heavily on traditional themes and motifs. These musical styles often feature lyrics that tell stories about encounters with wild monkeys or references to their mythical status within the culture’s oral tradition.

The presence of wild monkey populations has been documented since pre-colonial times on some parts of the Hawaiian Islands; however, there is no evidence that any species was ever endemic (native) here prior to human arrival around 1,500 years ago.

Today there are only two known non-native species living freely: Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) found primarily on Oahu’s North Shore; and Crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis), which inhabit certain areas of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast State Park area near Hanalei Bay.

The state does not allow private ownership of these animals due to potential risks posed by escaped individuals interacting with humans or other wildlife populations negatively impacting local ecosystems .

Finally, it should be noted that while most people immediately think of monkeys when talking about primates living in Hawaii today, they actually make up just one small part of a much larger picture. This includes several different types of lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, marmosets, tamarins, capuchins, spider monkeys and more.

Key Takeaway: Monkeys are an important part of Hawaiian culture, appearing in art and music as symbols of strength and good luck. However, only two non-native species exist today on the islands due to restrictions on private ownership.

FAQs in Relation to Monkeys in Hawaii

Are there monkeys in Maui?

No, there are no monkeys in Maui. The Hawaiian islands are home to a variety of unique and fascinating wildlife, but monkeys do not live on any of the islands, including the northwest Hawaiian islands. In fact, Hawaii is one of only two states in the United States that does not have any native primates. While some people may have seen what they thought were wild monkeys while visiting Maui, these sightings were likely just feral cats or small rodents like mongooses or rats.

Where can I see monkeys in Hawaii?

Monkeys are not native to Hawaii, so you won’t find them in the wild. However, there is a place where you can see monkeys up close and personal – The Monkey Jungle Sanctuary on Oahu. This sanctuary provides a safe haven for rescued primates from around the world. Visitors can interact with these animals and learn about their natural behaviors while taking part in educational activities such as feeding sessions and guided tours. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience with some of nature’s most fascinating creatures, then head over to The Monkey Jungle Sanctuary.

Does Hawaii have gorillas?

No, Hawaii does not have gorillas. The islands of Hawaii are home to a variety of wildlife, including several species of birds and sea life, but there are no native gorilla populations on the islands. Gorillas can be found in other parts of the world such as Africa and Southeast Asia; however, they do not inhabit any part of Hawaii’s archipelago.

What is monkey in Hawaiian?

Monkey in Hawaiian is known as ‘ʻaki”. It is a small, omnivorous mammal that lives in the tropical forests of Hawaii. Its diet consists mainly of fruits, leaves, flowers and insects. It has distinctive black fur with white patches on its face and chest. The monkey can be found both alone or in groups, depending on the species and habitat it inhabits. They are highly intelligent animals that have been observed using tools to forage for food and build nests. ʻAki’ are an important part of Hawaiian culture, representing joyfulness and playfulness among locals who often give them offerings such as fruit or nuts during special occasions like festivals or birthdays.


In conclusion, it is clear that there are no wild monkeys in Hawaii. While some species of monkey have been introduced to the islands over time, they have not established a sustainable population and do not currently exist in the wild. However, there are captive monkeys living on the islands as pets or in zoos and sanctuaries.

The cultural significance of monkeys to Hawaiians has also changed over time but remains an important part of Hawaiian culture today. So while the answer to “are there monkeys in Hawaii” may be no, their presence still plays an important role in Hawaiian life and culture.

On your next visit to Hawaii, consider a visit to one of the locations with pet or rescue monkeys. These interesting animals are worth observing.

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