Describe a typical day in the life of a Squirrel Monkey keeper at Taronga Zoo.
We start our days when most people are just waking up! At 7am the keepers are already checking in with the monkeys to make sure that everyone is safe and sound. We do a visual body check to assess their health and then it’s feeding time! Throughout the day we have a lot to do that ensures our primates are happy and healthy. We do all the food prep for their three feedings, tons of cleaning too – you would be surprised what these little monkeys can get up to when no one is looking! Once the hard part is out of the way we can observe the dynamic and social interactions of the group.
What do you love most about your job?
Squirrel Monkeys are so fun to watch! We have five less than two years old and a few females that are pregnant so it is a lively group. Having the babies and expected infants brings out the best of the older monkeys because they join in on the fun too. I have been able to watch the monkeys grow up and develop unique personalities. The interactions that they have with each other are fascinating to watch.
What can visitors expect from the new immersive Squirrel Monkey exhibit?
Lots and lots of fun! There is so much activity in the group and their play is gorgeous to watch. They are super speedy and love to chase each other. Visitors can also expect new babies! We will have infants over the summer which will be an exciting time to visit.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Keeping on top of group dynamics in such a large group of social Primates. We have 14 individuals that range from 1 to 17 years of age and each has their own unique personality and behaves quite differently. It’s really important that we get to know each of these animals so we can better manage and understand the group as a whole. As you can imagine learning to identify 14 monkeys who all look very similar in size and physical appearance can be quite tricky, especially when they are constantly on the move!!