Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey baby born at Dubbo Zoo

Baby on 14th Sept by Keeper Sasha Brook

Spring has sprung early at Taronga Western Plains Zoo with the birth of a male Spider Monkey baby on 24 August 2020.

The baby boy was born overnight with keepers arriving at work to see mother Jai doting over her newborn. This is the second baby for Jai and father Pedro, with their first baby Isadore born in October 2017.


“Jai was a natural mother first time around and is clearly still a calm mother taking caring for her second baby in her stride,” said Primate Keeper Sasha Brook.

“We are really happy with the maternal behaviours Jai is displaying and because we have a good rapport with her we are able to get up close to check on the baby and how it is doing and we are very pleased to see him doing well,” said Sasha.

Spider Monkey babies cling on to their mothers with an amazing grip and suckle as needed for the first few months of their lives. After approximately three to four months the babies become more active and move to dorsal riding on the back of their mother and start exploring a little more.

“Visitors to the Zoo may find it difficult to see the new arrival at present as he is clinging to his mum’s tummy however, when they move to dorsal riding they are easier to see.”

“There are now six youngsters on the Spider Monkey island including the most recent baby born into the group and we are hopeful there is another baby on the way,” said Sasha.

“It is really amazing to see the different ages in the group now and the watch the juveniles interact with the adults. Pedro is particularly good with the youngsters and is often observed playing with them.”

The Black-handed Spider Monkey conservation breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has now welcomed four females and two males since the arrival of Pedro the breeding male from France in 2014.

“Having another male born into the group is really exciting, it widens the genetic diversity in the group which benefits the regional conservation breeding program.”

“One day once he is mature he may move to another Zoo and sire babies of his own,” said Sasha.

Black-handed Spider Monkeys are found in Mexico and throughout Central America and are classified as Endangered with habitat loss the primary cause of their decline.

Endangered Spider Monkey Born in Australia


Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo were delighted by the early morning arrival of an endangered Black-handed Spider Monkey baby on October 26 to first time mother, Martina.

The male infant is yet to be named, but both mother and baby are doing well so far.

“Martina is a natural mother, she is showing all the right maternal behaviors. She has had the advantage of watching our two other mothers raise their babies over the past year,” said Keeper Stephanie Sims.

_AT_051420151016Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“At present visitors need to have a keen eye or binoculars to spot the newest addition, as the baby is clinging closely to mum’s stomach and looks like a little brown bulge from the viewing area.”

The baby will cling to his mother’s belly for the next few months, and has only in the last week started to hold his head up and look around. During his first year he will slowly gain confidence and start feeding himself, spending small periods of time away from Martina and hanging out with other members of the group. The baby will still rely on his mother though, as Spider Monkey babies are not considered completely independent until approximately three years of age.

“At present father Pedro doesn’t play a hands-on role raising the baby. However, as he gets older, Pedro will spend time wrestling and playing with him which also teaches specific social skills,” said Stephanie.

The two Spider Monkey babies born late last year were at first very curious about the new arrival, getting up close to take a look at the baby. The curiosity has worn off for the time being though.

“As the baby gets older and starts wanting to play with the older two, they will show more interest in him again.”

The Black-handed Spider Monkey regional conservation breeding program has a shortage of breeding males and while every birth is important, having a new genetic bloodline for the program is significant.

“We are really excited that the newest arrival is a male. The two babies from late last year were both females so to have a male this time is really great news,” said Stephanie.

Native to Central America and extreme northern South America, Black-handed Spider Monkeys are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The primary threat is loss of habitat. Large forested areas are essential to their survival, and these tracts are becoming rare in the region. Because they reproduce only once every two to four years, Black-handed Spider Monkey populations cannot quickly rebound when affected by human-caused disturbances.


‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ in the Taronga Troop


Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Black-handed Spider Monkey babies are growing and developing rapidly. Born in October and December 2017, the two females have started to explore their island home away from their mothers. Isadora, the eldest of the two youngsters, is already becoming quite an influence on her younger half-sister. The younger female, Ariana is quite curious of Isadora, and often follows and copies her to pick-up items or practice climbing skills. As the old saying goes: “monkey see, monkey do”!



4_1RIC202620151016Photo Credits: Rick Stevens

Sasha Brook, Keeper, said, “The two babies have started playing with each other only very recently, and it is one of the cutest things I’ve seen in all my years as a keeper!”

Both the mothers, particularly Jai, are very relaxed and allow the keepers to interact with their babies. The babies love to climb and chew on the keeper’s hands and are now at an age where their confidence is rapidly increasing.

“Both babies are eating a fair amount of solid food now, but are still quite reliant on the nutrition of their mothers’ milk,” said Sasha.

The babies will be fully weaned and completely independent by the age of two, but will still stay close to their mothers until they are approximately four years old.

“They can still be seen riding on their mothers back, and when they run amok their mums will chase after them and scoop them up. The two often copy their mothers, and other members of the troop, by picking up and mouthing carrots and other fruits and vegetables provided,” Sasha shared.

The Black-handed Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), also known as Geoffroy's Spider Monkey is a species of spider monkey native to Central America, parts of Mexico, and possibly a small portion of Colombia. As a result of habitat loss, hunting and the pet trade, the species is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Their body color varies by subspecies and population: buff, reddish, rust, brown or black. Hands and feet are dark or black, and the face usually has a pale mask and bare skin around the eyes and muzzle.

Unlike most primates whose males leave to find other troops for breeding, female Black-handed Spider Monkeys are generally the ones to seek a new troop upon becoming sexually mature. These females may eventually go to another zoo in the future, but for now they will continue to grow and develop under the watchful eye of their mothers and keepers.

A great time to see the Black-handed Spider Monkeys is at 12:50pm when keepers provide them with their lunch. Visitors to the zoo can also grab their own lunch or a coffee and watch the Spider Monkey antics any time during the day.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo had not bred Black-handed Spider Monkeys for 16 years, until the arrival of Isadora last year, followed by Ariana soon after.

For more information about the facility, visit www.zoofari.com.au .



Taronga Western Plains Zoo Is Twice as Lucky

1 - Spider Monkey baby born 21 Dec 2017

Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed the arrival of a female Black-handed Spider Monkey baby, just prior to Christmas, on December 21, 2017.

After a little more than seven months gestation, the yet-to-be-named baby arrived to first-time mother, Margarita, and father, Pedro. The birth followed the exciting arrival of baby Isadora on October 9, 2017. Isadora was the first Spider Monkey to be born at the Zoo in 16 years.

“We are very excited to announce the arrival of another healthy female Spider Monkey baby, marking a wonderful boost to the Spider Monkey breeding program,” Keeper Mel Friedman said. “The baby’s mother, Margarita, is one of the last female Spider Monkeys to be born at the Zoo, 16 years ago. She has been proving her skills as an excellent mother, and has been taking great care of the baby, who clings to her belly as Margarita swings around her island home.”

“Margarita is quite a private individual compared to Jai (Isadora’s mother), who is more social, but now and then, she allows her Keepers to see the baby up close, which is very special,” Friedman said.

2 - Spider Monkey baby born 21 Dec 2017

3 - Spider Monkey baby born 21 Dec 2017Photo Credits: Rick Stevens/Taronga Western Plains Zoo

After a hiatus from breeding the species, Keepers were optimistic about the potential for more babies following the arrival of breeding male, Pedro, from France in 2014.

“Pedro is a highly valuable Spider Monkey male in the Australia/New Zealand region due to his genetics, and he has certainly been a great addition to the breeding group,” Mel said. “We were delighted when baby Isadora arrived in October last year, so to have two babies born in a three-month period is fantastic,” she said.

Once the baby becomes more active later in the year, Keepers expect to see her interacting with Jai’s four-month-old baby, Isadora. Isadora is already starting to engage with the rest of the troop while riding on her mother’s back.

To date, fifteen Spider Monkey babies have been born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which is home to three sub-species of Black-handed Spider Monkeys. The best time to see them is at the “Spider Monkey Feed” which occurs at 12.50pm daily.

The Black-handed Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), also known as Geoffroy's Spider Monkey, is a species of New World monkey that is native to Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies.

One of the largest New World monkeys, it often weighing as much as 9 kg (20 lbs.). The arms are significantly longer than its legs, and its prehensile tail can support the entire weight and is used as an extra limb. Its hands have only a vestigial thumb, but long, strong, hook-like fingers.

They reside in troops that contain between 20 and 42 members. Their diet consists primarily of ripe fruit, and they require large tracts of forest to survive. As a result of habitat loss, hunting and capture for the pet trade, the species is currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Endangered Spider Monkey Turns One-Year-Old


L’Oli, the Spider Monkey at Zoo Barcelona, just turned one-year-old!

The little primate has been in the care of the Zoo’s Keepers since birth. Unfortunately, new mother Pearl wasn’t sure how to care for her newborn and keepers stepped in to assist. Now, L’Oli is old enough to begin to try living among her peers. It has not been an easy process, but after many attempts at socialization, she is now living with the other Spider Monkeys at the Zoo.


12339514_1231999230149066_2639963306567815513_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Barcelona

 Spider Monkeys, of the genus Ateles, are New World monkeys native to the tropical forests of Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Brazil. The genus contains seven species, all of which are under threat; the Black-headed Spider Monkey and Brown Spider Monkey are “Critically Endangered”.

Spider Monkeys form loose groups of 15 to 40 individuals. During the day, groups break into smaller subgroups to search for food. They communicate using posturing and barks. The monkeys are diurnal and spend the night sleeping in carefully selected trees.

They are among the largest New World monkeys and have an average weight of 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) for males and 9.66 kg (21.3 lbs.) for females. Their prehensile tails can be up to 35 inches long.

The Spider Monkey’s gestation period ranges from 226 to 232 days. Females average a single birth every three to four years. Infants rely on their mothers for up to 10 months of age. Males have no involvement in rearing the offspring. For the first month after birth, a mother carries her infant around her belly

The monkeys are considered an important food source due their size and are widely hunted by local human populations. Their numbers are also threatened by habitat destruction due to logging and land clearing. They are also used as lab animals in the study of malaria. According to the IUCN, their population trend is decreasing; one species is listed as “Vulnerable”, four are listed as “Endangered”, and two as “Critically Endangered”.

Baby Spider Monkey: To Leap or Not to Leap


Baby Monkeys who want to keep up with their older siblings must learn to let go – literally!  Leaping from branch to branch like a daredevil is an essential primate skill.  A Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey born on October 20 at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel is practicing the basics, but still takes refuge in the arms of mother Juanita.

The baby, whose gender is not yet known, cautiously practices walking on branches, but still prefers to hold on tight.  It will be many months before the baby is confident enough to play a game of chase with the other youngsters in the troop.

Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

Geoffroy’s Spider Monkeys live in rain forests and mangrove swamps from southern Mexico to Panama.  With long arms, they swing effortlessly among the branches, using their prehensile tails as extra “hands.”  In fact, Spider Monkeys often hang from their tails while eating leaves and fruits gathered in the forest.

Geoffroy’s Spider Monkeys are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Habitat loss due to human activity is the primary cause of the shrinking population. Spider Monkeys are also illegally captured for the pet trade.

See more photos of the baby Spider Monkey below the fold.

Continue reading "Baby Spider Monkey: To Leap or Not to Leap" »

Good News! Critically Endangered Spider Monkey Born at Twycross Zoo


Born December 8, these are the early pictures of a new baby Veriegated Spider Monkey at the UK's Twycross Zoo. This is the first Spider monkey baby born there in 10 years. And as you can see, the baby's mum takes good care to cradle her baby when outdoors. At times, the whole family gathers round while the baby sleeps, secure on it's mother's shoulder.

Veriegated Spider monkeys are critically endangered due to habitat loss, hunting and the pet trade and are listed as one of the 25 most endangered primates by IUCW. It's estimated that over 90% of their natural habitat in northern Columbia and north-western Venezuelais is already gone and of the approximately 60 Spider monkeys in Eurpoean zoos, there were no births in the year of May 2009-2010. That makes this baby a very valuable and important addition to the remaining population.

Mom hug

Photo Credits: Gillian Day

Read more after the jump:

Continue reading "Good News! Critically Endangered Spider Monkey Born at Twycross Zoo" »

Marvin the Spider Monkey Meets Life on White

ZooBorns is pleased to share brand new pictures from the Life on White team, which aims to create the largest collection of animals photographed on white backgrounds. Featured on ZooBorns a few months back, Marvin the Red-faced Spider Monkey was born in May at the UK's Twycross Zoo. Marvin is the third animal Life on White found here at ZooBorns. According to Monori: "Our photo sessions generally take place over one week. We travel with one or two assistants in our camping car (in Europe) from one photo shoot to another. All the animals are photographed in their own environment/home so that they do not suffer any stress linked to transport or to unknown environments."





Marvin throwin' shapes...




Keep up the great work Gabor!

Funky Bottle-Feeding Spider Monkey

This is Marvin, the new baby Red-faced Spider Monkey at the UK's Twycross Zoo. Born May 2, the tiny monkey is being hand-reared by the keepers. According to photographer Sypix, he seemed to be very attached to his pink blanket. Red-faced Spider Monkeys live up to thirty years in the wild and even longer in captivity. They are protected by the Amazon Animal Protection Act of 1973, although they are still listed as vulnerable to extinction.



Dutiful Daughter Cares for New Baby Brother

Zoo Basel was the scene of high drama in late December when Spider Monkey mom, Quilimari, suffered complications during child birth. Too weak to care for her newborn, she was taken into the zoo veterinarians' care but the prospects for her tiny baby were tenuous, as baby monkeys without natural mothers have high mortality rates. 


Luckily for all, the baby's young-adult older sister, Dicha, immediately jumped in, scooping up the baby and, surprisingly, nursing it like her own. How Dicha was able to nurse a baby immediately upon birth, while not pregnant or a recent mother herself, is a mystery. 


When the mother was returned a few days later, the daughter dutifully returned her little brother to her mother's care. Now a month later, all is well. - Heroic older sis looking concerned below -