10 13/10/2017

Rare spider monkey born at Chester Zoo

A tiny newborn spider monkey has been spotted clinging tightly to its mum at Chester Zoo.

The Colombian black-headed spider monkey was born on Monday (09/10/17) to 29-year-old mum Christine and 28-year-old dad Popoyan.

At just a few days old the baby is yet to be named as keepers do not yet know its gender.

The rare South American primates – found mainly in Colombia and Panama - are listed as critically endangered on the International Union of the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of endangered species. They have been pushed to the edge of extinction by deforestation and hunting for their meat, with 80% of its population estimated to have been lost in the last 45 years. 

Spider monkey

Dr Nick Davis, the zoo’s Deputy Curator of Mammals, said:

“Mum Christine is taking great care of her new arrival - spending all of her time cradling and nursing the little one. Spider monkey babies are very dependent on their mums, being carried almost exclusively for the first six months before they start learning how to climb.

“Spider monkeys have an interesting social system – more similar to chimps than other monkeys. The group at Chester Zoo are very important in terms of our scientific understanding of the species and many conservationists have spent time studying them here, learning how to record behavioural data, before heading out to their habitat in Latin America to study them in the wild.”

spider monkey

Chester Zoo has supported spider monkey research in Latin America for many years and, in tandem with its conservation partners, has identified a need for more awareness of conservation and environmental issues amongst local communities.

The zoo is currently expanding its conservation support for the threatened primates and, working with the Mexican NGO ConMonoMaya, is inspiring Mexican schoolchildren about the species in a bid to build their rapport with the wildlife around them.
Spider monkey

Spider monkey facts:

  • Latin name is Ateles fusciceps rufiventris
  • Chester Zoo’s baby spider monkey was born on Monday (09/09/17)
  • Dad Popoyan was born on 03/09/1989
  • Mum Christine was born on 30/09/1988
  • A single infant is born and is cared for by its mother until around the age of 20 months
  • The species is classed as critically endangered in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning they face a very real threat of extinction
  • They are native to Colombia and Panama
  • The species is under pressure from a high rate of habitat loss due to deforestation and huge hunting pressure
  • They primarily eat fruit but will also occasionally consume leaves, flowers and insects

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