A new baby squirrel monkey is now receiving visitors at the Virginia Zoo.
The mother, Marie, delivered sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning on February 17/18. She was discovered with the baby squirrel monkey clinging to her back Saturday morning by zookeepers. The tiny primate joins its mother, proud papa Jeebes and two other adult females.
"We probably won't name the baby until we know its sex," said zookeeper Aubry Hall, who works with the squirrel monkeys.
Found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, squirrel monkeys spend most of their time in trees and are primarily active during daylight hours. The tiny primates live together in groups of up to 500 males and females. Squirrel monkeys are omnivorous, eating primarily fruits and insects. They live roughly 15 years in the wild, but zoo residents can reach 20 years old.
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Squirrel monkeys have the proportionately largest brain of all primates, with a brain to body mass ratio of 1-to-17. Humans, by comparison, have a 1-to-35 ratio. Adult squirrel monkeys range from nine to nearly 14 inches, plus a 13 to 17-inch tail, and weigh in from one to just over two pounds. The males are usually larger.
"The squirrel monkey family is one of our most popular exhibits, particularly with children," said Greg Bockheim, the Zoo's executive director. "And they've been prolific; this is our 18th squirrel monkey born here since 1967. A squirrel monkey birth is a sure sign that spring is on its way."