This primate exhibits a rich golden brown to golden red fur with a black and golden patch on the back. The Golden snub-nosed monkey is endemic to China, where this animal inhabits coniferous montane forests with sharp temperature fluctuations (below freezing in winter and up to 25 °C (77 °F) in summer). The tail is as long as the body. The pale blue face resembles a trefoil. Additionally, mature males of this species exhibit red swellings at the corners of their mouth.
The natural range of Golden snub-nosed monkeys stretches throughout western-central China, namely, in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Hubei and Shaanxi. Within this area, Golden snub-nosed monkeys are generally found in high mountainous, deciduous broadleaved and coniferous forests. During the winter months, they usually move to lower altitudes.
These primates are highly social. During the summer months, the Golden snub-nosed monkeys gather into large groups of up to 200 individuals. During the winter, these animals typically live in smaller groups of 20 - 30 monkeys. They can occasionally be observed in huge concentrations of as many as 600 individuals, made up of several groups, which, in turn, are divided into smaller family units that consist of single dominant male and about 4 females with their offspring. These monkeys spend most of their active time in trees, although they are also known to feed on the ground. When threatened, they climb high up into the trees for shelter. The primary form of communication in this species is a rather unusual, ventriloquist type of vocalization, during which they move neither their body nor face. Most common calls include whines and shrills, usually used by males and females when feeding.
As herbivores, the Golden snub-nosed monkeys consume a wide range of food. Their diet generally consists of pine needles and young firs, being supplemented by bamboo shoots, leaves, buds and fruits.
Golden snub-nosed monkeys are polygynous, which means that one male gets an exclusive right to mating with multiple females. As a general rule, receptive females are the initiators of mating, announcing of their readiness through various signals and postures. They breed year-round with a peak period, occurring in September-November. Most births occur in March-May. Gestation period lasts for 7 months, yielding a single offspring. During the first few days after birth, the baby is nursed and carried in arms of its mother, constantly remaining with her until about 20 days old. Then the young monkey begins living with the group of its mother and is weaned at 1 year old. Males of this species are ready to mate at 7 years old, whereas females are mature by 4 - 5 years old.
The Golden snub-nosed monkeys currently suffer from large-scale hunting for food. The pelt of this animal has a commercial value, while some parts of its body are used in traditional medicine. Moreover, whole communities have been known to engage in round-ups of these animals. The Golden snub-nosed monkeys are also poached to be sold to zoos. And finally, these primates are threatened by loss of their natural range as a result of deforestation and habitat degradation.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population of Golden snub-nosed monkeys is around 15,000 individuals, including estimates of the following subspecies’ populations: Moupin golden snub-nosed monkeys - 10,000 individuals/ 100 groups in Sichun (namely, 6,000 in Mingshan Mountain, 3,500 in Qionglaishan Mountain and 500 - in Daxiangling and Xiaoxianling Mountain), 800 animals/ 8 groups in Gansu and finally, 170-200 monkeys/ 1 - 2 groups in Shaanxi; Quinling golden snub-nosed monkeys - about 3,800-4,000 individuals/ 39 troops; and Hubei golden snub-nosed Monkeys - around 600-1,000 animals/ 5-6 troops. Overall, the population of Golden snub-nosed monkeys is decreasing today, and the animals are classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.
The Golden snub-nosed monkeys may affect plant growth through their herbivory.