Squirrel Monkey

And then there were seven! Taronga Zoo Sydney announces the birth of four Bolivian Squirrel Monkey babies!

Taronga Zoo Sydney is thrilled to announce the birth of four Bolivian Squirrel Monkey babies, bringing the total number of Squirrel Monkey babies born this season to an impressive seven.

The seventh and final Squirrel Monkey birth took place last Thursday 21 January while the other three babies were welcomed into the world in late December and early January.

Squirrel monkey baby. Credit Jennifer Steed

All seven babies are reported to be doing extremely well, with the eldest three starting to look very similar to their mums in both size and confidence. “The three eldest monkeys have become extremely active and more confident, especially in the last few weeks. They are starting to spend less time attached to their mums and are constantly exploring, climbing and swinging around their exhibit,” said Primate Keeper Scott Brown.

So far Taronga’s primate keepers have been able to identify the first five babies as males, but considering their young ages, agile nature and protectiveness of their mums, keepers are yet to determine the sex of the youngest two monkeys.

“Once we can properly identify the sex of the two recent births, we will begin the naming process. We already have quite a few names in mind, but they aren’t concrete yet so watch this space!

“All seven squirrel monkeys are available to view on exhibit, so keep an eager eye out for the youngsters perched on their mum’s back or for the older monkeys as they begin to play and explore on their own,” said Scott.

The Squirrel Monkey exhibit is one of the first exhibits to see on arrival, located next to the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning. Keepers perform a daily feed at 12 pm which is the best time to catch a glimpse of the new arrivals.

As a proud not-for-profit conservation-based zoo, guests who choose to visit Taronga are choosing to help secure a shared future for wildlife and people by contributing to Taronga’s conservation efforts.


Palm Beach Zoo Overjoyed at Birth of Squirrel Monkey

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WEST PALM BEACH - October 26, 2020 - Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society family of animal residents has grown by one tiny new life. On October 8, Luna, a 12-year-old squirrel monkey, gave birth to a healthy baby in the wee hours of the morning. This is the first squirrel monkey birth at the Zoo since 2011 and the first for this troop.

“The animal care team has been diligently observing Luna and her baby over these crucial first days, and we are pleased to report that mother and baby are doing well. The troop has happily accepted the baby as one of its own,” said Mike Terrell, Palm Beach Zoo’s general curator.

“Every birth at the Zoo is unique. This one was a full team effort, from the primate staff, animal care team and a special assist at the end by the Zoo Ranger security detail.”

Since squirrel monkey births generally take place overnight, the nighttime security staff at the Zoo was asked to check in on Luna over several key nights. Brittany Taliaferro was on rounds the early hours of Thursday morning and spotted an extra small monkey in the habitat.

Squirrel monkeys are a small new world monkey weighing only about two pounds and onefoot long. A baby squirrel monkey is tiny, only weighing a few ounces. They cling to their mothers immediately after birth and look like a fuzzy backpack.

“Being a security guard at a Zoo comes with some unique responsibilities. It was my honor to enact our protocol and let the animal care team know we had a new birth overnight,” said Zoo Ranger Taliaferro. “The team told us which nights were most likely for Luna to go into labor, and what to look for.”

The dedicated and knowledgeable team at the Zoo has been working with the troop and hoping for offspring over the last few years.

“This is the best possible outcome,” said primate zoologist Devin Clarke. ”Luna came to Palm Beach Zoo in November 2018 and was introduced to the troop in December. We have been providing enrichment and safety to help encourage natural instincts since her introduction.”

Of the five species of squirrel monkeys two are currently listed as endangered, however all their wild habitats in South America are being threatened by deforestation. They also have a dicey history with humans, as many ended up in the pet trade from the 1940s-70s especially in Florida. They were offered as an ‘adorable pet and companion. Almost human...’ according to a vintage newspaper ad selling them for $18.95. What the ad failed to mention was their unhuman-like traits of marking their skin and tail with urine to leave messages for other monkeys on furniture and clothes. They also are social creatures preferring to live in large groups and languishing in homes as solitary pets. Thus, many pet monkeys were released into the wilds of Florida and developed five unique populations. In 2020, only two of these wild populations remain.

At Palm Beach Zoo, this troop is safe to exhibit all their natural behaviors and live as a cohesive unit, with one small addition. See the newest squirrel monkey in the habitat across from the jaguars in the Mayan Plaza every day. 


A piggyback from mum: eight baby squirrel monkeys at Basel Zoo

 

After two years without any offspring, Basel Zoo’s squirrel monkeys now have a whole troop of new arrivals. Eight tiny monkeys are currently clinging to their mothers’ backs.

These little monkeys with their striking yellow coats were all born at Basel Zoo between 10 May and 17 June.  There is a good reason for the previous lack of offspring: the group was made up entirely of females for two years, until a new male arrived at the zoo at the end of 2019. The recent glut of children was the gratifying result. It has been 34 years since there were this many young squirrel monkeys at the zoo at once.

Of the eleven females in the current group, only the oldest (26) and the two youngest (3) have no young at the moment. The oldest of the three males (13) is the breeding stud and thus the father of the eight babies. 

At Basel Zoo, the squirrel monkeys share an enclosure with the woolly monkeys. The two species get along well: the older squirrel monkey children like to climb all over the woolly monkeys and are sometimes even permitted to ride on their backs.

Males only tolerated during mating season

Squirrel monkeys live in female groups consisting of a mother, her adult daughters and their offspring. Males are expelled from the group at the age of two or three, after which they live in bachelor groups. The strongest bachelors gain huge amounts of weight just before mating season and switch into a female group to produce offspring. Mating season is therefore an exceptional time for this monkey species. At Basel Zoo, this lasts from November to January and the baby monkeys are born five months later. This lines up perfectly with the beginning of insect season, as insects are one of squirrel monkeys’ favourite foods. After mating season, the females will no longer tolerate the presence of males and will drive them away again.

Unlike many primates, squirrel monkeys mark their territory with scent marks and use these as a way to communicate with each other. They do not have special glands for this purpose – they simply urinate over their hands and feet and then rub them into their fur, spreading the scent all over their body and passing it on as they wander around on the branches and ropes. They rub their backs or chests against important parts of the enclosure to pick up the scents of other members of the group or to leave their own scent behind.

Squirrel monkeys can differentiate between the smells of group members and those outside of the group. This ‘urine washing’ becomes particularly vigorous during the mating season.  As a result, squirrel monkeys have their own characteristic smell. The zoo keepers are careful not to clean the climbing structures too thoroughly, to ensure that the scent marks are not removed.

Insect hunting

Squirrel monkeys are also called saimiris. They live in the rainforests of the southeastern Amazon basin, northern Bolivia, southern Peru and eastern Brazil, primarily on riverbanks.  They eat fruit and insects. Around 80% of their time searching for food is spent hunting insects and other small animals. If no fruit is available, they will feed entirely on insects.

Squirrel monkeys are not endangered in the wild, but the population trend is clearly declining. Loss of habitat and hunting are particular issues for this species. A European breeding programme (EEP – EAZA ex-situ programme) coordinates the species’ breeding in zoos, with Basel Zoo serving as the coordinator. The programme covers over 900 animals.


Mom Happy to Have a Monkey on Her Back

Photo by Lisa RidleyTaronga Zoo has a new addition to their Squirrel Monkey family! The tiny male can be seen holding tight to his mother ‘Lena’s’ back as she leaps around the exhibit.

Photo by Madeleine Smitham (3)

Photo by Madeleine Smitham

Photo by Madeleine Smitham (2)Photo Credits: Lisa Ridley (Images 1,5); Madeleine Smitham (Images 2,3,4,6)

The weeks-old youngster has been named ‘Julio’, and keepers say he and Lena are doing extremely well.

This is the first infant to be born out of the introduction of Taronga’s male, ‘Chico’, to 12 female Squirrel Monkeys from France, last year, through the regional breeding program.

Primate keeper, Suzie Lemon, says, “Lena and baby are doing amazingly well. A lot of the female Squirrel Monkeys have been interacting with the baby, and our two oldest Squirrel Monkeys, ‘Ayaca’ and ‘Squirius’, have been showing a lot of interest by vocalizing at him and rubbing up against him.”

Julio is developing very quickly. “He has already been seen climbing on ropes by himself with all four legs, with just his tail holding onto mum.

“In the next few weeks we’ll see other females start to carry him around and nanny him a bit, then he’ll slowly start to explore on his own,” said Suzie.

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Baby Squirrel Monkey Clings to Mom at Virginia Zoo

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A new baby squirrel monkey is now receiving visitors at the Virginia Zoo.

The mother, Marie, delivered sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning on February 17/18. She was discovered with the baby squirrel monkey clinging to her back Saturday morning by zookeepers. The tiny primate joins its mother, proud papa Jeebes and two other adult females.

"We probably won't name the baby until we know its sex," said zookeeper Aubry Hall, who works with the squirrel monkeys.

Found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, squirrel monkeys spend most of their time in trees and are primarily active during daylight hours. The tiny primates live together in groups of up to 500 males and females. Squirrel monkeys are omnivorous, eating primarily fruits and insects. They live roughly 15 years in the wild, but zoo residents can reach 20 years old.

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Photo Credit: Virginia Zoo

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Up Close and Personal with a Baby Squirrel Monkey

On February 1st, the Edmonton Valley Zoo welcomed a tiny baby squirrel monkey. For the next six to ten weeks, the curious but cautious baby will hitch a ride on its mom's and aunts' backs. Until the baby becomes a bit more independent and starts venturing out on its own, zoo staff cannot be sure whether the little ball of monkey is a boy or girl.

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Baby monkey edmonton zoo 3Photo credits: City of Edmonton

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