A Coloring Activity

Hi! I’m Melinda. I study the facial expressions of animals and people. I use my knowledge to help artists make characters in movies and games look better! I created the created black macaque artwork for this activity.

We’ve included a BBC Earth video about how affectionate crested black macaques are, as well as a variety of fun facts about them, and, of course, downloadable coloring pages. We’ve set it up so that you can opt to use an online paint app if you prefer.

Crested black macaques are very inquisitive and even artistic. Click here or scroll to the bottom of this page to learn about their surprising artsy side. What else might you learn about crested black macaques while coloring?


Crested black macaques have some pretty dramatic facial expressions! Crested black macaque, like all primates, including humans, use facial expressions to communicate and express their feelings. 

Since we’re primates, the facial expressions of other primates can look a lot like ours, but don’t be fooled, those expressions don’t always mean the same things from species to species.

Facial expressions are a very important form of communication among crested black macaques. For example, they are used between males to determine their rank within a troop. Lower-ranked males indicate their submission through behaviors like grimaces and lip smacking, while higher-ranked males display aggression through staring and grinning. Even a yawn doesn’t necessarily mean that a macaque is sleepy: when a male yawns, he shows off his very impressive canine teeth. This can be a sign of aggression. Research has shown that, like humans, crested black macaques respond to even very subtle differences in facial expressions.


Crested black macaques are native to northeastern Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia, and the adjacent islands of Manado Tua and Talise. On those islands, they live in the lush rainforests for which Indonesia has historically been well known. However, these rainforests are disappearing due to human settlements, agriculture, and other human activities. As a result, the crested black macaques are forced to learn how to get by in disturbed and logged forests, as well as in whatever grasslands or even farmed fields they may find that may be surrounded by their forests. The idea of lush island life is exciting, but when you live on an island, and as your forest habitat is destroyed, there’s nowhere else to go. They have already become extinct on other islands. Because they are losing their forests, crested black macaques are critically endangered.

Here’s a beautiful video from BBC Earth that illustrates how crested black macaque live and how they behave. You’ll see some of their wonderful facial expressions, what they mean, and how they use them.

Video courtesy of ©BBC Earth


The “crested” part of their name comes from the tuft of black hair sprouting up from the tops of their heads like a faux hawk. 


Yes! Even though crested black macaques are almost all black, they have “sitting pad” that are pink! The scientific term for these pads is “ischial callosities,” which are calloused patches that allow the monkeys to sit on branches for long periods of time and to comfortably sleep sitting upright on thin branches, beyond reach of predators, without falling. Pretty convenient!


Have you noticed their tails? Their tiny tails are almost invisible because of their sitting pads. Their tails are only 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) long. Since they are terrestrial monkeys, living mostly on the ground rather than in trees, they don’t need long tails for balance. 

Because their tails are barely visible, people have mistaken them for apes and sometimes refer to them as crested black apes. That is incorrect, however. They are monkeys.


Crested black macaques have a wide variety of common names including Celebes crested macaques, black crested macaques, Celebes black macaques, Celebes macaques, and Sulawesi crested macaques. Why do they have so many names? The common names of species are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by region, country, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.

Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. The scientific name for the crested black macaque is Macaca nigra.

Scientific names are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language they may speak. Scientific names are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. These prevent misidentification.

Coloring the Expressive Faces of
Marvelous Crested Black Macaques!

Crested black macaques make a wide variety of facial expression to communicate their feelings. Here are a few.

Although they are black, you can color your crested black macaques any way you like. How colorful could you make them? What might they look like if they were purple, orange, or multi-colored? Download the coloring pages below. If you like, download multiple copies and color them in a variety of colors. Or go crazy using a paint app. Use your imagination!

Print to color or use a paint app online, like MS Paint or a similar

Here’s how Melinda colored them on her tablet, but you don’t have to do it the same way.

Use whatever colors you like. How creative can you be?


Crested black macaques, like all macaques, are very intelligent. They are interested in everything around them and curious about anything that is new in their environment. So, when photographers show up on their island, they take every opportunity to check out the camera equipment.

There was a big story about this in 2011 when a crested black macaque gained international attention after she took selfies with wildlife photographer David Slater’s camera. The photos were hilarious, as you can see in the photo to the right. That’s her! That photo became very famous.

This photo started a years-long court battle to determine whether an animal can own a copyright. The photographer, of course, wanted to own the rights to this photo because it was taken with his equipment. But some people said that he was not the owner because he didn’t take the photo himself. They said that the macaque owned the photo! And they brought the case to court.

In the end, the court decided that animals cannot own their own copyright, and that works “created by a nonhuman” can’t be copyrighted at all. Because of this, the images taken by the macaque are in the public domain, which means that anyone can use them without paying the photographer for them or seeking his permission.

Despite the legal headaches, we think most people can agree that the photo and the case surrounding it brought positive attention to a critically endangered species that few people were previously familiar with.

PIC BY A WILD MONKEY / DAVID SLATER / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: One of the photos that the monkey took with Davids camera. 1 of 2: This photo was the original photo the monkey took) - The photographer behind the famous monkey selfie picture is threatening to take legal action against Wikimedia after they refused to remove his picture because ‘the monkey took it’. David Slater, from Coleford, Gloucestershire, was taking photos of macaques on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in 2011 when the animals began to investigate his equipment. A black crested macaque appeared to be checking out its appearance in the lens and it wasn’t long before it hijacked the camera and began snapping away. SEE CATERS COPY.

To learn more about crested black macaques, visit our Primate Species Profile “Crested Black Macaques.”

If you liked this coloring activity, check out Color Me Chimpanzee too!

Artwork developed by Melinda Ozel, 2023. Learn more about Melinda and her work at

All educational content by Debra Curtin, 2023.

Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2023. You may freely use, copy and share these Learning Activities for educational purposes. 
For questions or comments, e-mail us at [email protected]