A tiny male Eastern Black-and-white Colobus Monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo's Primate House on January 10. The little one was given the name Ziggy as a nod to rock star David Bowie who passed away on the day the infant was born.
Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. Adults have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. Infants will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.
Mom Cecelia (age 16) is the dominant female in the group, and she is an experienced mother who is taking great care of her newborn and 1-year-old Simon. Her 3-year-old daughter Kivuli is an eager "babysitter." Also in the family is 28-year-old matriarch Roberta, mother to 3-1/2-year-old daughter Pili, and 2-year-old daughter Binti. Nine-year-old father Kima watches proudly over the family.
"Everyone in the Colobus Monkey family has a role in caring for newborns," says Joe Knobbe, Zoological Manager of Primates at the Saint Louis Zoo. "Cecelia allows the young females some time with the infant, holding or even carrying him. They are learning important skills that will help them become great mothers, too, someday."
The family can be seen at the Zoo’s Primate House. Visitors can see the infant poking his head out to look at his new world.
The Eastern Black-and-white Colobus Monkey (Colobus guereza) is found throughout the forests of east and central Africa.
Colobus Monkeys grow to a max weight of about 15-30 pounds and a length of about 30 inches. They are strictly leaf-eaters and spend most of their time in treetops. They live in troops of about five to ten with a single dominant male and several females with young.
Gestation for the Colobus is about six months. There is no distinct breeding season, and females will typically give birth every 20 months. The entire troop may play a part in caring for the newborn. He will cling to the mother, or others allowed to care for him, for the first seven months of life. After that time, he will begin to play more with other juveniles.
The Colobus Monkey is currently classified as “Least Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. At one time the monkey was hunted for its beautiful fur for use in making dance costumes, capes, and hats. Today, their biggest threat is habitat encroachment by humans for the development of agriculture, housing and roads.
The birth at the Saint Louis Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program created to manage a genetically healthy population of Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys in North American zoos.