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Chehaw welcomes a new addition

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Chehaw Wild Animal Park officially announced the birth of the newest addition to its black and white colobus monkey family on Wednesday.

The baby colobus was discovered during a routine morning check on July 5. The mother, Arusha, and the as-yet-unnamed baby were removed from the exhibit for a checkup. They were returned shortly after determining the mother and baby were doing well.

"We had suspected Arusha was pregnant, but weren't certain until we found the baby that morning," Park Curator Jan Thompson said. "We're still not sure if it's a male or female. We'll wait until the baby gets bigger before taking a look."

The baby boosts the park's colobus population to five -- the baby, mother Arusha, father Chua, sister Viniti and brother Hasani. All three siblings were born at the park.

"The colobus have strong family units," Thompson said of the distinctively black and white marked primates. "The family acts as baby sitters, a trait we called 'aunting' to take care of the baby."

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, "The newborn colobus monkey is covered with white fur, and at about one month gradually begins to change color, finally gaining the black and white adult coloration at about three months. The infant monkey is carried on the mother's abdomen, where it clings to her fur. As it matures it spends a lot of time playing with its mother and certain other adults and at about seven months begins playing with other juveniles. The games they play exercise their bodies, and as they get older, these develop into wrestling matches and mock displays.

"Colobus monkeys live in troops of about five to 10 animals -- a dominant male, several females and young. Each troop has its own territory which is well defined and defended from other troops. Adult troop members, especially males, make croaking roars that can be heard resonating throughout the forest."

Thompson said that captive breeding is essential to maintaining zoo populations since "it's now rare for zoos to buy animals captured in the wild. But, we have to follow carefully managed genetic population plans to ensure the species remains healthy."

Colobus breeding programs are monitored the Association of Zoo and Aquariums' black and white colobus species survival plan.

The Colobus species is native to Africa, with this particular subspecies also known as the Kenyan colobus.