Monkey business at Baltimore zoo

It was all monkey business at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore this week.

A black and white colobus monkey was born in the zoo's Chimpanzee Forest Tuesday. It's the second baby for the zoo's colobus pair, Keir and Bisi. Gonzo, the first offspring, was born in April 2012.

"As with the first birth, we want the mother and baby to be as comfortable as possible, so we are not interfering with them at this time," said zoo general curator Mike McClure. "The troop dynamic is different this year with Gonzo being a very curious juvenile, and the staff is monitoring them very closely."

"Colobus infants are covered in white fur and cling tight to Mom's belly," McClure said. "As the baby grows, the white fur will gradually change to the sharp black-and-white coloration of the adult colobus."

The birth of the monkey now brings the zoo's colobus count to five.

Colobus monkeys ( Colobus guereza) are found in all types of forests in equatorial Africa. They are easily distinguishable by their black bodies and long white tails, and are highly social animals that spend most of their time sitting in the treetops eating and socializing. They take turns sleeping at night so that one member of the troop is always awake and watching for predators. The species is considered "in decline" as they are threatened by loss of forest habitat across equatorial Africa, and are also hunted for their meat and fur.  

The colobus monkey birth is the result of a recommendation from the Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity and appropriate social groupings, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals.

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