Capuchin monkey baby boom at Hamilton Zoo


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13 February 2009

Hamilton Zoo is experiencing its very own 'baby boom' with the births of three capuchin monkeys in the past three weeks, and two more due to be born shortly.

Five-year-old capuchin Jessie was the first to give birth on 22 January, followed by 14-year-old Clarissa on 9 February and 18-year-old Drucilla on 10 February. Fifteen-year-old Eva and six-year-old Diva are both expected to give birth in the coming weeks.

Hamilton Zoo Director Stephen Standley said the facility is delighted with its new arrivals, which are the direct result of a three-way zoo exchange of brown capuchin monkeys that took place in July last year.

"Hamilton Zoo and Brooklands Zoo identified a clear need for an exchange programme as each facility housed a large troop of closely-related capuchins and both were near maximum capacity, meaning only minimal breeding was possible," said Mr Standley.

"This lack of breeding was having a negative impact on the troops, and included increased aggression and poor mothering skills where young females had been unable to learn through observation."

Because the troops at Hamilton Zoo and Brooklands Zoo were unrelated to each other, it was decided the best solution would be to set up a new troop of capuchins at Melbourne Zoo consisting of three Hamilton Zoo males and four Brooklands Zoo females, and then for Hamilton and Brooklands Zoos to exchange their remaining females – therefore establishing three troops in which all males are unrelated to all females.

"In the end our facility retained two of its original males and gained six females from Brooklands Zoo," said Mr Standley. "A few days after the exchange took place the new females were introduced to our males, Sanchez and Apu, and we were thrilled to see them hit it off immediately.

"Obviously we couldn't have asked for a better result than the current 'baby boom' we now are experiencing," he said.

Capuchin monkeys originate from South America and are not currently threatened with extinction. They live in large troops and eat a wide variety of fruits, insects and small vertebrates in the wild.

The gestation period for capuchins is 150-160 days.

Name: Stephen Standley
Designation: Hamilton Zoo Director
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6954
Mobile: 021 912 113
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6960
Name: Kylee Bruce
Designation: Communication Advisor
Tel (Direct): 07 838 6726
Mobile: 021 816 917
Fax (Direct): 07 838 6761
Page reviewed: 13 Feb 2009 12:00am