Binder Park Zoo is proud to announce another addition to its family. On November 9, 2010, in the wee hours of the morning, a baby Red-capped Mangabey monkey was born. This is Binder Park Zoo’s first birth of this species since it began exhibiting them in 1999 with the opening of Wild Africa. “The zoo has been working diligently with AZA (American Association of Zoos and Aquariums) for ten years to bring together a pair of animals that would have all the right attributes for a successful breeding” said Jenny Barnett, Director of Wildlife Management Conservation and Education. The mother is a 4 year old that was brought in from the Denver Zoo in late 2009, and the father, a 20 year old male, was brought in from the Houston Zoo in 2000.
This is the first offspring for both parents. “We were apprehensive about the success of the parents rearing the infant since they are both first time parents, however they have exceeded our expectations with their close attention and care for the baby” said Andi Kornak, the Curator of Collections.
The red-capped mangabey is a small African primate weighing between 12 and 26 lbs, females being much smaller than males. Their home range is in the western equatorial countries in Africa; Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and Republic of Congo. This arboreal species can be found foraging for fruits, nuts, tender shoots, mushrooms, ants, and flowers in troops of 14-23 animals. Their original habitat and numbers have greatly decreased over the last two decades due to human encroachment and hunting. Mangabeys are hunted for the commercial bushmeat trade which is heavily reducing wild populations. It is difficult for researchers to get an accurate survey of how many are left in the wild, but they can determine that this animal that was once widespread through out its home range is now drastically disappearing from areas with heavy agricultural and hunting pressure. Binder Park Zoo currently houses four red-capped mangabey monkeys and is only one of eight zoos in North America to exhibit this unique species.
Zookeepers are keeping a close watch on the development of this baby to ensure it is ready for exhibit in Wild Africa in the spring. “Under close supervision of the mother, the baby is starting to show some independence. In fact, climbing lessons started when it was only ten days old” said Becky Bolen, one of Binder Park Zoo’s zookeepers.
The sex of the infant is still unknown as it is very difficult to determine until they are older. The mother is very protective and staff are keeping their distance for now.