Palm Beach Zoo’s family of animal residents has grown by one tiny new life. On Oct. 8, Luna, a 12-year-old squirrel monkey, gave birth to a healthy baby in the wee hours of the morning. This is the first squirrel monkey birth at the zoo since 2011 and the first for this troop.
“The animal care team has been diligently observing Luna and her baby over these crucial first days, and we are pleased to report that mother and baby are doing well. The troop has happily accepted the baby as one of its own,” said Mike Terrell, Palm Beach Zoo’s general curator. “Every birth at the zoo is unique. This one was a full team effort, from the primate staff, animal care team and a special assist at the end by the zoo ranger security detail.”
Since squirrel monkey births generally take place overnight, the nighttime security staff at the zoo was asked to check in on Luna over several key nights. Brittany Taliaferro was on rounds in the early hours of Thursday morning and spotted an extra small monkey in the habitat. Squirrel monkeys are a small monkey weighing only about two pounds and one-foot long. A baby squirrel monkey is tiny, only weighing a few ounces. They cling to their mothers immediately after birth and look like a fuzzy backpack.
“Being a security guard at a zoo comes with some unique responsibilities. It was my honor to enact our protocol and let the animal care team know we had a new birth overnight,” Taliaferro said. “The team told us which nights were most likely for Luna to go into labor and what to look for.”
The dedicated and knowledgeable team at the zoo has been working with the troop and hoping for offspring over the last few years.
“This is the best possible outcome,” said primate zoologist Devin Clarke. “Luna came to Palm Beach Zoo in November 2018 and was introduced to the troop in December. We have been providing enrichment and safety to help encourage natural instincts since her introduction.”
Of the five species of squirrel monkeys two are currently listed as endangered, however all their wild habitats in South America are being threatened by deforestation.
At Palm Beach Zoo, this troop is safe to exhibit all their natural behaviors and live as a cohesive unit, now with one small addition. See the newest squirrel monkey in the habitat across from the jaguars in the Mayan Plaza every day.
Visit www.palmbeachzoo.org to learn more.