Keepers at Des Moines, Iowa's Blank Park Zoo sprang into action when it became clear the mother of a new born baby Japanese Macaque was neglecting her infant. The female baby monkey, born April 20, is now being bottle fed every couple of hours and will remain in keepers' care until she is fully weaned and able to rejoin the Macaque troop.
“This is a positive step forward for the Japanese macaque breeding program, but we can’t call it a success until the mothers learn how to care for their young” said Kevin Drees, director of animal care and conservation. “None of our females of breeding age have raised a baby before so that is why keepers had to intervene.”
Japanese macaques are threatened due to deforestation and the loss of their habitat. As human development invades the territories of these macaques, human and macaque encounters increase, and about 5000 macaques are captured or shot each year (despite protection from the Japanese government) for they are considered as agricultural pests.
Because the baby will not be seen on exhibit, zoo officials are setting up a webcam at www.blankparkzoo.com. Viewers will be able to see the macaque grow for several weeks.
In the wild baby macaques cling to their moms, so she was given several teddy bears to ‘hug.’
As far as a name, zoo officials have decided to raffle a chance to name the baby. Tickets cost $1 and can be purchased at the admissions desk of the zoo. Information on how to purchase tickets can be obtained at the zoo’s website, www.blankparkzoo.com
The birth announcement also coincides with the re-opening of the Japanese macaque exhibit. The new exhibit features a tunnel made to look like a log where visitors can go into the exhibit and look through a special ‘one way’ or mirrored glass. The macaques also like the interactive because they like to look at themselves in the reflection of the mirror.
It’s been since 1995 since the last successful rearing of a Japanese macaque at Blank Park Zoo. The Zoo brought in several breeding age male macaques in 2009 with hopes that a program could be established.