On February 1st, the Edmonton Valley Zoo welcomed a tiny baby squirrel monkey. For the next six to ten weeks, the curious but cautious baby will hitch a ride on its mom's and aunts' backs. Until the baby becomes a bit more independent and starts venturing out on its own, zoo staff cannot be sure whether the little ball of monkey is a boy or girl.
It's all monkeying around with Edmonton Valley Zoo's latest addition, a baby squirrel monkey born at the zoo on February 1.
Proud mother Mia will let the infant ride on her back for the next six to 10 weeks and on the backs of other female monkeys who will step in as aunts. Once the baby becomes more independent, zookeepers will be able to examine the infant to determine its gender.
“We prefer to let mom and baby stay together as they would in the wild. We’re keeping an eye on them both, and baby looks strong and healthy and is growing well,” said Sandy Helliker, head zookeeper.
The as yet unnamed monkey joins its sisters Keisha and Keeley in the Saito Centre at the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
Squirrel Monkeys are native to the forests of Central and South America and the largest monkey group in the world. Squirrel Monkeys are quite agile and are good jumpers. Their diet consists of fruit, nuts, insects, birds, eggs, spiders, seeds and leaves. Their average lifespan is nine to 20 years. Deforestation, hunting, collection for research and pet markets, and mosquito-spraying programs have all had a detrimental effect on these monkeys.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo Squirrel Monkeys are part of the Population Management Program designed to ensure demographic and genetic health in the species. As part of the program, the captive Squirrel Monkey population are closely tracked and animals will be lent out to other zoos to maintain diversity within the species. The baby’s father, Bobby, came to the Edmonton Valley Zoo from Riverview Park and Zoo in Ontario in 2003.