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Baby colobus monkey at Saint Louis Zoo

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Published on Jan 29, 2014

A black and white colobus (CAHL-uh-bus) monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo's Primate House on Jan. 14, 2014. This birth is particularly significant as the 26-year-old mother has become the oldest colobus monkey to ever give birth in any Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoo.

Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. They have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. Infants will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.

Roberta, an experienced mother and the group's matriarch, is taking great care of her newborn. Naming will await determination of the monkey's gender. She has two other offspring, 3-year-old male, Mosi (MOH-zee), and 1-1/2-year-old female, Pili (PEEL-ee). Also in the family group is Cecelia, age 15, and her baby, one-year-old female, Kivuli (Kih-VOO-lee), and the father, Kima (KEE-muh), age 8.

"Kivuli and Pili are very interested in the new infant," says Joe Knobbe, zoological manager of primates at the Saint Louis Zoo. "Roberta allows them to look, but not get too close, even scolding them if they don't behave around the baby. For the youngsters, it's important that they learn from the adults how to properly care for and interact with infants."

The family can be seen at the Primate House. Visitors can see the infant poking its head out to look at its new world.

The colobus monkey, a threatened species, is found throughout the forests of east and central Africa. The birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black and white colobus monkeys in North American zoos.

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