WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society announces the birth of a critically endangered Mexican spider monkey over the weekend.
“This is the first birth for this species this year, and there was only one birth last year, so as you can imagine we are thrilled about this important win for a critically endangered species,” explained Jan Steele, General Curator for the Zoo.
“The baby is clinging to mom and successfully nursing. As we are in the critical first few days of life, we don’t know the baby’s sex,” Steele said. “We are simply letting nature play its course as we don’t want to disturb the special bond between mother and baby.”
The Mexican baby spider monkey can be seen with her mother, Raven, at the Primate Island exhibit. Over the weekend, a couple of families received a special treat – the first public glimpses of mom and baby in the large ficus tree on the island, during the daily Spider Monkey Talk which takes place at 11 a.m.
“The successful birth is a tribute to the excellent animal care at the Zoo,” said Andrew Aiken, Zoo President and CEO. “It speaks to the core of our mission to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife as our Zoo family continues to grow.”
The Mexican spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi vellerosus) is Critically Endangered due to a high rate of habitat loss, but the species was listed as of Least Concern as recently as 2000 (indicating risks are dramatic and rapid). To date, there are only 67 spider monkeys in zoos around the world, with 30 residing in zoos here in the United States.
Mom, Raven, was born at Palm Beach Zoo on October 10, 1993. Dad, Chave, is from the wild and was confiscated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1996. Chave came to Palm Beach Zoo in 2004 to be a mate for Raven. In addition to this new birth, Raven and Chave have one daughter and a son, Hugo.
Many Zoo visitors know Hugo, who has a reputation for being very active and adventurous. He is still with the group and learning good parenting behavior before he is sent to another zoo sometime in the next few years for breeding purposes.
In the midst of the exciting news, the task of capturing the adorable baby spider monkey’s face on camera has proved to be daunting. The baby is days old and nursing, add to that a very protective mother, often turning her back and shielding her baby by hiding behind leaves in the ficus tree.
“While Raven is good at camouflaging herself and baby, at different times of the day, if you look closely you can spot them,” Steele said.
Known for engaging guests and inspiring wildlife ambassadors, Zoo officials confirm it will hold a naming contest in the near future. Details will be announced on the Zoo’s Facebook page and social media platforms.
About the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. We advance our conservation mission through endangered species propagation, education and support of conservation initiatives in the field. Our commitment to sustainable business practices elevates our capacity to inspire others. The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is located at 1301 Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.