The first day of spring was still hours away when Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomed a special springtime arrival. Three-year-old Howler Monkey, Charlie, gave birth March 19, much to the delight of her keepers, who say mom and baby are bonding quickly and appear to be in good health.
Charlie gave birth to her yet unnamed baby, whose gender likely won’t be confirmed for months, in their exhibit in Monkey Pavilion. The baby appeared to be strong immediately after the birth, and Charlie’s maternal instinct was evident within the hour. Within moments of her baby’s birth, Charlie was cradling and grooming the baby, even softly patting the back of the baby’s head as she held it.
“We watch for certain indicators that the baby is strong,” said Cheyenne Mountain Zoo senior lead keeper, Michelle Salido, who was there during the birth. “We like to see them grasp on to their mother’s fur and for their tails to wrap around their mother’s arms or nearby branches. Nursing is the ultimate sign that the mother and baby are doing well. We’re seeing all of those things, so we’re excited it’s going so well.”
Charlie and her baby will remain in their exhibit in Monkey Pavilion, where guests can view them any day of the week. Charlie’s mate, Howie, a three-year-old Black Howler Monkey, who was in the habitat with Charlie during the birth, is in the same space as Charlie and the baby, but seems most content keeping his distance for now.
Charlie and Howie were recommended to breed based on their genetics as part of the Black Howler Monkey Species Survival Plan, managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. This baby’s birth is contributing to a program that is working to help guarantee 100 years of genetic diversity for the species in accredited organizations.
Keepers will keep a close eye on Charlie and her baby, and will be happy to share their joy with members and guests who come to visit.
“It’s unusual for Howler Monkeys to give birth during the day, and it’s unusual that all three of her primary keepers are in one place at one time to witness it,” said Salido. “It was a really special family moment.”