Zarude is a simian Pokémon resembling a baboon or mandrill. Its body is primarily covered in coarse black fur, though its chest and belly are patterned with shorter gray fur. Its upper snout, palms, and rings around its eyes are devoid of fur, and its skin is a light gray. The fur around the side of its head angles into wing-like crests on either side of its eyes. The eyes themselves have red sclerae, green irises, and black, slitted pupils. Its teeth are pointed and its canines are visible when its mouth is closed.
Zarude can extend prehensile vines from its wrists, neck, and the soles of its feet at will. It uses these strong and flexible vines to attack, swing from trees, and collect food from a distance. Zarude's vines can also rapidly heal wounds when wrapped around them, and absorb energy from trees. While resting, only the tips of the vines at Zarude's neck and feet extend beyond its skin. However, the vines extending from Zarude's wrists are typically wrapped around its forearms in four concentric rings. Occasionally, Zarude's vines tear off and become nutrients for the soil of the forests it lives in. As shown in the anime, the number of vines can vary, and may indicate a Zarude's age or importance, with Zarude possessing the most vines being the oldest or most dominant.
Zarude are social and live in troops. They're usually incredibly aggressive, and frighten most other Pokémon. They attack anyone that aren't part of their pack; they excel in battle with their sharp claws and quick wit.
A special Zarude named Dada Zarude acts as a unique form.
While Zarude are usually aggressive and territorial, they occasionally exhibit a softer side. A Zarude named "Dada" wearing a pink ripped cape bearing Celebi's National Pokédex number split from its pack to raise and nurture an orphaned human infant. It is said that this Zarude derived a unique strength from its bond with the adopted human child.
Zarude has a separate form called Dada Zarude. It wears a pink, ripped cape bearing Celebi's National Pokédex number, and it was reported to have left its pack to raise a human child, as seen in the 23rd movie, Secrets of the Jungle. Zarude's forms are functionally identical and are non-interchangeable.
Zarude may be based off of baboons and mandrills. It could also be based on black lemurs. Its Dark type may reference the aggressive and violent nature of said primates. The use of vines to swing through trees is also reminiscent of how monkeys and apes are often depicted swinging on vines in jungles.
Zarude may also be based on the Shug Monkey in English folklore and the "Carew Ape" that's said to haunt Carew Castle in Wales. Given its presence in the Isle of Armor Pokédex, its design may also draw inspiration from the Buggane, a strongly territorial troll- or ogre-like creature known to repeatedly cause destruction in Manx folklore.
The story of Dada Zarude adopting a human child appears to be a reference to tales in which a human child is raised by wild animals, similar to the story of Tarzan.
Zarude may be a combination of 猿 saru (monkey) and rude.