Christmas celebrations were aplenty at Taronga Western Plains Zoo last year, with the special arrival of another female Black-handed Spider Monkey baby, born on 21 December.
The yet to be named baby arrived to first-time mother Margarita, and father Pedro. The birth follows the exciting arrival of baby Isadora on 9 October 2017; the first Spider Monkey to be born at the Zoo in 16 years. The gestation period for Spider Monkeys is approximately seven-and-a-half months.
“We are very excited to announce the arrival of another healthy female Spider Monkey baby, marking a wonderful boost to the Spider Monkey breeding program,” Keeper Mel Friedman said.
“The baby’s mother, Margarita, is one of the last female Spider Monkeys to be born at the Zoo, 16 years ago. She has been proving her skills as an excellent mother, and has been taking great care of the baby, who clings to her belly as Margarita swings around her island home.
“Margarita is quite a private individual compared to Jai (Isadora’s mother), who is more social, but now and then she allows her Keepers to see the baby up close, which is very special,” she said.
After a hiatus from breeding the species, Keepers were optimistic about the potential for more babies following the arrival of breeding male, Pedro, from France in 2014.
“Pedro is a highly valuable Spider Monkey male in the Australia/New Zealand region due to his genetics, and he has certainly been a great addition to the breeding group,” Mel said.
“We were delighted when baby Isadora arrived in October last year, so to have two babies born in a three-month period is fantastic,” she said.
Once the baby becomes more active later in the year, Keepers expect to see her interacting with Jai’s four-month-old baby, Isadora. Isadora is already starting to engage with the rest of the troop while riding on her mother’s back.
To date, 15 Spider Monkey babies have been born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which is home to three sub-species of Black-handed Spider Monkeys. The best time to see them is at the Spider Monkey feed at 12.50pm daily.
Black-handed Spider Monkeys are found in Mexico and throughout Central America, and are classified as Endangered, with habitat loss being the primary cause of their decline.