Madonna Delivers Baby at the Virginia Zoo
Of course we mean Madonna the squirrel monkey...
The material monkey was discovered with the new baby clinging to her back Saturday morning, March 9, 2013 by zookeepers.
The tiny primate joins its mother, proud papa Jeebes and four other squirrel monkeys in the Zoo's Exhibit Building.
Squirrel monkeys have the proportionately largest brain of all primates, with a brain to body mass ratio of 1-to-17. Humans, by comparison, have a 1-to-35 ratio. Adult squirrel monkeys range from nine to nearly 14 inches, plus a 13 to 17-inch tail, and weigh in from one to just over two pounds. The males are usually larger.
Found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, squirrel monkeys spend most of their time in trees and are primarily active during daylight hours. Unlike many other New World monkeys, their tail is not directly used for climbing, but for maintaining balance as they run and jump among vines and branches. The tiny primates live together in groups of up to 500 males and females. Squirrel monkeys are omnivorous, eating primarily fruits and insects. They live roughly 15 years in the wild, but zoo residents can reach 20 years old.
Photo cut-line (photo attached):
New Male Bongo
A.J., a 2-year-old bongo from the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida, arrived at the Virginia Zoo in December and began exploring his new outdoor habitat January 16, 2013, after 30 days in quarantine.
The Virginia Zoo has a successful bongo breeding program, which is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, which strives to preserve endangered species. As part of the effort, the Zoo sent one of its captive-born calves to Africa in 2004, to create a herd with other bongos from North American zoos.
Wild bongos live in dense forests in Kenya and other regions of Africa. The wild population is rapidly diminishing as its habitat is destroyed by human encroachment, and the animals are over-hunted for meat and for their horns.
Bongos are the largest and heaviest type of forest antelope, standing over 50 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing around 450 to 550 pounds. Their chestnut coats with white stripes provide camouflage in the forest shadows. Herds are comprised of females and calves, while males are more solitary. Bongos are most active at dawn and dusk. Females give birth to one calf per year and the gestation period is nine months.
Baby Siamang Born
A new baby siamang was discovered clinging to her mother's stomach Aug. 21, 2013 by zookeepers. First time mother Hitam came to the Virginia Zoo from the San Diego Zoo, while her father, Bali, came from Howletts Wild Animal Park in England.
Siamangs are critically endangered and facing increasing pressure in the wild. They are native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia and are the largest species of gibbon. Siamangs have black shaggy hair and a naked face. They have large gray or pink throat pouch that can be inflated, allowing them to make loud resonating calls that can be heard more than two miles away. Siamangs are omnivorous, eating mostly leaves, but also fruit, insects, nuts, small animals, birds and bird's eggs. Males and females are similar in size, growing to 30 to 35 inches in length and weighing approximately 17 to 28 pounds.
Siamangs bear one offspring after a 7 to 8 month gestation period. For the first few months, the baby clings to the mother's abdomen. By age two, the baby is independent, but still very much a part of the family. At about seven years old they reach sexual maturity and leave their parents.
Rock Hyrax Born
Three new baby rock hyraxes were born July 5, 2012, and can now be seen with the four adults in the hyrax habitat. Two baby hyraxes born last year moved to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in April.
Hyraxes are small, heavy-set mammals from Africa and the Middle East. Their feet have rubbery pads with numerous sweat glands, which together form a kind of suction cup that helps their grip when climbing steep, rocky surfaces.
Hyraxes' ancestors also gave rise to elephants and manatees, and modern hyraxes have many features in common with elephants, including excellent hearing, sensitive pads on their feet and good memory. Their upper incisors are enlarged, forming continuously growing tusks.
Adult hyraxes range between 1 and 2 feet in length and weigh from 5 to 9 pounds. Living in small family groups dominated by a single adult male, hyraxes eat a variety of plants, but mainly feed on grasses. Their efficient kidneys retain water, helping them survive in arid climates.
Diminutive Duikers Deliver Decendent
A male blue duiker, named Todd, was born April 21, to mom Peanut and father Cinco. Visitors should keep a sharp lookout, though, because the baby duiker is just a little larger than a guinea pig and likes to hide among the habitat's bamboo.
Blue duikers are found in the forests of Central and South Africa. They can weigh nearly 12 pounds and stand just shy of 16 inches tall at the shoulder. Their brown coat has a slight blue tinge. The name "duiker" is Dutch for "diver" and duikers use their long hind legs and short forelegs to dive into the underbrush when threatened.
Nocturnal animals, blue duikers primarily eat fruit, flowers and leaves that fall from the rainforest canopy, but occasionally eat eggs and insects, as well. They are territorial and either live solitarily or form mating pairs.
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