December 9, 2009 § Leave a comment
It’s all about the monkeys this week, with both good and bad news to report from the primate front. Read on to find out more.
We are pleased to announce that several of our squirrel monkeys over in Living Links have been giving birth this month! In the west group, Gerda, an experienced mum (and grandma!) gave birth to the first youngster of the season on the 9th November. She was then swiftly followed by Jasmine, Harlette, Georgette and Roca who all gave birth within the space of just a few weeks, totalling 5 babies in all.
Over in the east group of squirrel monkeys, Tatu kicked things off by giving birth on the 15th November and was then quickly followed by Elie and Maya, totalling 3 babies to date. With three adult females still left without youngsters in this group, we expect that there may still be more births to come!
These mothers can be seen carrying their youngsters around on their backs, and feeding them milk on a frequent basis! However, all the females within a social group will assist in caring for the young, and so you may spot youngsters hopping from one monkey’s back to another! This provides a fantastic learning experience for both the young (who get to observe and interact with lots of different individuals) and for inexperienced females, learning the art of parental care. Unlike some other primates, squirrel monkeys can also climb from birth, and are therefore less dependent upon their mothers. You may spot some brave youngsters taking their first climbing lessons if you pay them a visit!
The young have not yet been sexed by the keepers, as they cannot get close enough to the tiny youngsters! Squirrel monkeys are weaned anywhere between six and ten months, but are likely to stay with mum for the full ten month period. For this reason it may still be a few months until keepers can identify the youngsters and give them all suitable names. Nevertheless, we will keep you updated on their progress right here!
Why not take a trip over to Living Links and see if you can identify any of the parents and youngsters yourself? Nearly all the adult squirrel monkeys wear a necklace with coloured beads, and identification information is available.
Learning to climb
You may recall we announced the birth of two Guinea baboons back in September, and we are pleased to tell you that the breeding success of this troop has not stopped there! On the 30th October another youngster was born to mother, ‘Pachmalou’ (wears a green ear tag!). None of the youngsters have yet been sexed or named, as the troop are very protective of them. However, the youngest can be seen clinging onto her mum’s belly, and the oldest can now been seen catching a ride on their mum’s back! Keepers are still expecting at least one more birth from this troop, and we will keep you updated of any more new arrivals, right here!
We are disappointed to have to tell you that one of the Guinea baboon youngsters born in September did not make it. As with all animals, young can be particularly vulnerable, and infant mortality is common in many species. ‘Tiana’ was a young mum at just 5 years old (Guinea baboons typically mature at 4 – 4½ years old) and this was her first experience of raising young. This perhaps had something to do with the infant’s death. However, the baby’s body will be sent away for testing, so that we can determine exactly why the youngster died.
There are juveniles of all sizes and ages to look out for amongst the Guinea baboons