Monkey’s birth a ‘nice surprise’ for Duluth zoo staffPrimate keeper Dave Thompson saw something unexpected when he made the rounds at the Lake Superior Zoo on the morning of June 26: a new face in the Primate Conservation Center. Overnight, it seemed, the monkey population had grown by one.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky , Duluth News Tribune
Primate keeper Dave Thompson saw something unexpected when he made the rounds at the Lake Superior Zoo on the morning of June 26: a new face in the Primate Conservation Center. Overnight, it seemed, the monkey population had grown by one.
Thompson later confirmed that the tiny white monkey was the baby of Kelly, the zoo’s 15-year-old Angolan colobus.
“It’s an exciting day to be at the zoo,” marketing director Kim Matteen said.
Thompson said he arrived at work at 7 a.m. June 26 to find Kelly holding the brand-new monkey, whose sex still is unconfirmed. The birth wasn’t completely unexpected: Kelly and the second female colobus Kero had been taken off birth control last year at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. After the Lake Superior Zoo gained its accreditation last year, it became part of the Species Survival Plan. The association makes recommendations to control the population of various captive animals across the U.S. There are 68 Angolan
colobi in U.S. zoos.
Thompson said they had been monitoring Kelly’s weight, and while she had put on some pounds in April and May, she lost a pound in June.
“The baby’s arrival is a nice surprise,” Thompson said. “We were hopeful because of the possibility, but not immediately expecting this birth.”
Kelly, who was born in
San Diego, has been in Duluth for 14 years. Kero, her 10-year-old daughter, has lived at the zoo her entire life and Kramer, the father of the new baby, was transferred here six or seven years ago.
Thompson said the mother and baby are being monitored closely, and so far they appear to be healthy. The baby is nursing,
can hold its head up and is strong enough to catch a ride on Kelly’s long black-and-white hair wherever she goes.
The baby’s sister, Kero, also has taken an active role in its care, which is common in primate communities, Thompson said. In addition to helping Kelly out, Kero is learning how to be a mother herself.
“She plays a pretty important role in this as well. She’s actually a built-in baby sitter,” Thompson said. “Mom can ... chill out for a while Kero watches the baby.”
The baby is the bright white of a newborn, but it will start developing a black-and-white coat within the next couple of months. Angolan colobi, which are native to Central Africa, are distinguished by their unique coat of mostly long black fur with long white fur surrounding the face, trimming the tops of the shoulders and very tip of the tail.
Once the sex is confirmed, Thompson said they will start considering names for the monkey. In the meantime, the monkey is on display with the other primates.
“It’s pretty cute. I think it’s worth the trip out here,” Thompson said.
The zoo, at 7210 Fremont St. in Duluth, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Kelly and her new baby can be seen in the Primate Conservation Center.