Gibraltar Monkey Tours

Our Gibraltar Monkey Tours are the only place to safely and ethically interact with the Barbary Macaques. Learn about their social and innate behaviours.

Gibraltar Monkey Tours – Barbary Macaque – Gibraltar Monkey

Sometimes referred to as the Gibraltar Ape or the Barbary Ape, the real name of this fascinating animal is the Barbary Macaque (Macaca Sylvanus). Although referred before as Apes, the barbary Macaque is actually a tailless monkey. If you look closely you can see a tiny tail that due to evolution no longer is required by the Gibraltar Barbary Macaque. The theory is that as they no longer hang from trees that often and are mainly on the ground, evolution has merited the tail as no longer required. 

The male barbary macaque has a life expectancy of 25 years, as opposed to the female which is 30 years. The Gibraltar Barbary Macaque is the only free living primate (apart from humans) in Europe.  

They originally originate from North Africa, and is thought to have been brought over by the Moors as pets during the Moorish occupation of Gibraltar during the 14th Century.

Gibraltar Monkey Tours - Barbary Macaque Behaviours

Social System and Behaviour

The Gibraltar Barbary Macaques live in a unisex pack with males migrating from their natal packs.

Barbary Macaques packs are therefore composed of groups of related adult females with their offspring and unrelated adult males.

Packs can contain up to 80 individuals, however, the average pack size is around 40 individuals living in a highly promiscuous mating system.

All pack members are ranked along a linear dominance hierarchy, with adult males usually outranking females. 

Higher ranking members of the pack are more successful in breeding and have priority to food and water. Related females occupy adjacent ranks and daughters rank below their mothers, similar to a Human Hierarchy.

It is usually the rank of the mother of the offspring that determines their rank in the pack. Dominance ranking results from members of the pack fighting with each other and further supported by their kin. Support amongst kin is shown by members of the pack frequently being in close contact, proximity and grooming. 

It is thought that rank within the pack is a social outcome resulting from, and determined by, personality as well as other physical characteristics. The theory is that low ranking or emigrating macaques with high confidence should be more likely to achieve high rank in a new pack. Also high ranking individuals that are high in confidence should maintain their rank position longer.



This is the most common behaviour primates use to reconcile and maintain friendly social relationships. 

As seen on the video,  dominant individuals have a stronger and larger network of grooming interactions with their group companions than subordinate individuals. 

Grooming is vital to the reconciliation functions that reduce the risk of renewed aggression.  This is of vital importance because these individuals will incur higher costs in terms of damage to their relationship and its associated benefits for individual fitness.