Binder Park Zoo welcomes baby monkey

Usi and Nairobi, colobus monkeys, hold their new baby. Courtesy Binder Park Zoo

A black and white colobus monkey was born Oct. 31 at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek.

The gender of the monkey has yet to be determined, but it was born to colobus monkeys named Usi and Nairobi.

“Baby monkeys are born with their eyes open and a strong grip, which they need to cling to mom,” said Kelsey Miller, lead keeper at Binder Park Zoo. “We’re really happy that this little one is alert, appears healthy and is demonstrating a good strong grip. Nairobi is showing that she is a calm and attentive mom to her baby, and we see Usi being protective of them both — the behaviors we hope for, especially for first-timers.”

The baby monkey is joining three monkeys, including its parents, Usi, his mate Nairobi, and a female named Puddin’. Usi was hand-raised by his keepers, which included around-the-clock feedings and specialized care after his mother abandoned him.

“Usi didn’t necessarily have an ideal start in life,” said Kathryn Sippel, curator of collections at the zoo. “When you hand-raise an animal, you develop a special affection for them, rooting for the underdog. So, it’s been very rewarding for our animal care staff to watch him grow into the primate he was meant to be and, now, become a father. Usi was born on April 16, the first day of the 2015 zoo season, and it’s interesting that five years later, his baby is born on the last day of the 2020 season. It shows how much time, patience and tenacity are often invested in these important programs.”

The eastern black and white colobus or Colobus guereza are native to equatorial Africa.

Colobus monkeys have lived at Binder Park Zoo since 1998. The Monkey Valley exhibit was opened in 1999.

“It is an honor to be part of the extraordinary conservation work at Binder Park Zoo,” said Diane Thompson, president and CEO. “Our zookeepers and veterinary staff, along with the other staff members, make a difference daily, and their work matters. Knowing that our conservation efforts have resulted in expanding the efforts of protecting this vital species is thrilling. We are genuinely excited to welcome the baby colobus to the zoo family.”

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