The San Diego Zoo’s Mandrill group welcomed a new addition to their ranks last week. Female, Kesi, gave birth to a baby boy, and he is the first Mandrill born at the Zoo in over 14 years.
Animal care staff had been watching for Kesi to give birth; but the night before, there were still no signs she was in labor. The next day, staff members said they were surprised to see Kesi walk out of her bedroom holding her new baby.
“It’s like every day we would come in, in the morning, and think like there might be a baby – we don’t know,” Jenny Baublit, senior primate keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “To actually see it was pretty incredible. Especially since she came in so quietly, just like a typical morning, but just happen to have a baby with her.”
This is the first baby for Kesi and male Mandrill, Jasper. So far, staff said, they are doing exceptionally well as new parents, and mom is being very attentive to the baby’s nursing needs.
The Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) is the largest and most colorful of the Old World monkeys. They are easily recognizable by their furry head crests, manes and golden beards. Their bright coloration, red nose and lips, and thick purple and blue ridges along the sides of the nose are also well known.
Mandrills are native to small social units in the rain forests of equatorial Africa. These small groups often join with others to form larger groups called ‘hordes’ that can number in the hundreds and sometimes have more than 1,000 members.
The species is listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Their numbers are decreasing due to habitat loss from illegal logging and the bush meat trade (hunting wild species for food). This trade has become lucrative and, as human populations increase, it is becoming a greater threat to many species’ survival.
The San Diego Zoo's first Mandrills, Peter and Suzy, arrived in 1923. More Mandrills arrived in 1938, and a breeding program was established in an effort to bolster the population. More than 34 Mandrills have been born at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park over the years.
Guests can visit the Zoo’s three Mandrills at ‘Monkey Trail in Lost Forest’. They share an exhibit with Guenons, including Spot-nosed Monkeys and Wolf’s Monkeys.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.