Social climber: Zoo's baby colobus monkey is up and at 'em

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Newest member of the primate family is now hopping, leaping and hanging by its tail

A gravity-defying acrobatics show debuted at the Oregon Zoo this week as a 2-month-old colobus monkey began learning to climb. Though the fluffy white youngster has yet to develop the long, cape-like fur of its parents, it's well on the way to mastering their signature climbing and leaping abilities.

"Colobus monkeys are excellent climbers," said Colleen Reed, a keeper who cares for the zoo's primates. "Though they don't have thumbs, they use their long fingers as hooks to help them leap from tree to tree."

The baby can be seen hopping, leaping and hanging by its tail, but never straying too far from the grownups. Colobus monkeys practice a style of collective rearing known as alloparenting where the adults take turns caring for babies in the family. Biologists believe this parenting style accounts for colobus babies' striking all-white fur, which makes them easy to identify within a large family group.

The active youngster was born June 12 at the zoo to first-time mom Violet. Caregivers won't know whether the baby is male or female until its initial veterinary check, probably in a few weeks.

Visitors can catch a glimpse of the climbing practice in the zoo's Africa Rainforest area, where the colobus monkeys share their waterfall habitat with Allen's swamp monkeys. Because of their calm nature, the colobus monkeys do very well in this multispecies environment.

"A lot of people miss the colobus habitat, since it's a bit tucked away," said Reed. "It's in a beautiful part of the zoo, between bats and flamingos."

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
 
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
 
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian| 503-220-5714 |hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org

Kelsey Wallace| 503-220-5754 |kelsey.wallace@oregonzoo.org