lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

S is for Spider monkey


Spider Monkey, taken by Michael Schamis, under creative common license here.


Spider Monkey

(Written for Bristol Zoo 21013, up in the monkey house)


Said spider monkey to the fly,

I love to leap from branch to sky,


and stop to look and hook my tail

upon a branch along my trail


to hang around and search for seeds

or tasty nuts among the leaves,


I pluck and suck the juice from fruits

and nibble green and tender shoots,


I chase and tumble and trapeze

all arms and legs and tail through trees,


and every whoop and wail and call

says all I’ll ever want at all


is space to play among the stems

and wrap my arms round monkey friends.


Liz Brownlee


Spider monkey live in Centra America in rain, dry and mangrove forests.

They are trapeze artists. They swing through the trees with their extra long limbs and prehensile tail working as a fifth limb so quickly they look like spiders – and even more so when they hang from their tail to pick fruit, seeds, leaves and flowers to eat.

Of the nine subspecies of spider monkey, seven are endangered, two critically. They are killed for food, they lose habitat to logging, they are caught for the pet trade.

Spider monkeys are very social –  they split up during the day into groups to hunt for food, but their reunions are noisy and affectionate with lots of hugging.

If you live in the UK, you can visit the variegated spider monkey Atelus hybridus at Bristol Zoo.


All material © Liz Brownlee

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  1. I would love to see an affectionate Spider Monkey reunion. How sad that they are in crisis.


    • So would I! I haven’t been up to the zoo to see the poem up yet, I must remember to do that, as I’d love to see them playing as well.


  2. Killed for food? That is disgusting. I learned something new today, and your poem is lovely.



  3. Great poem, Liz. I have an appalling technical knowledge when it comes to poetry and admire those who can write it well. I love the way you have linked the rhythm of the words to emulate the tree-swinging exploits of the monkeys. It works really well.


    • Thank you! I actually find monkey poems incredibly hard to write. I’m struggling with a gorila poem that I’ve been writing for 7 years! My entry for ‘G’ in this quick writing blog was therefore about my childhood pet!


  4. I love that you’re bringing attention to endangered species for your theme! It disgusts me to think what we do to animals when this land is just as much theirs as it is ours.


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