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Celebrating the Chinese year of the monkey

Zoo News - Posted 12 February 2016

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Hamilton Zoo has a timely new arrival as the world marks the start of the Chinese new year.

As if to coincide with the start of the Chinese Year of the Monkey, the zoo has welcomed a new spider monkey to its troop.

The new arrival was born in the early hours of Thursday morning (11 February).

Catherine Nichols, Hamilton Zoo's Carnivores and Primates Team Leader, says the infant is the first spider monkey born at the zoo in 10 years, and joins a troop of six.

"It will be a few months before we get to find out the gender of the new arrival," Mrs Nicholls says. "The baby will spend a lot of time bonding with its mother - and we're keen to let nature take its course – so it will be a wee while until we know if it's male or female."

Its mother is Jeneill (31 years old) and the father is Salsa (21 years old). The new baby is Jeneill's fourth offspring. Breeding of the species at Hamilton Zoo has been guided by the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australasia species management programme for spider monkeys.

The zoo's spider monkey troop lives in the rainforest exhibit, so visitors will need to be patient and look closely to see the new arrival.

Spider monkeys are a native of Central America, and have become  critically endangered due to deforestation of their natural habitat.

Increasing the population comes with challenges: the species' gestation period is 7.5 months, and only one infant is born at a time. The time delay between two pregnancies for female spider monkeys is usually between 18 months and four years.

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