Colobus Monkey Ready To Meet Its First Visitors

VIENNA, Austria – A baby king Colobus monkey (Colobus polykomos) born in November 2020 at the world’s oldest Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna is set to meet the zoo visitors for the first time after the demise of her mother.

The Colobus monkey, also known as a western black and white colobus, is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“Despite receiving the best veterinary treatment, unfortunately, we were unable to save Kwaku (the mother),” said Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck, the zoo director. “Fortunately, she (Nafana) spent the most important first phase with her mother and was fed with her mother’s colostrum milk, which helps build up the immune system.”

The baby monkey had no one to rely on, other than the zoo-keeping team. Luckily, they were able to help, despite the monkey’s difficult start.

“Adult colobus monkeys are leaf eaters. Nafana is still fed with milk, according to her age, but she is already eating leaves. She particularly enjoys cherry, willow, and ash leaves,” said Hering-Hagenbeck. “At the moment Nafana is fed at the back to not be distracted by other family members and so she can eat in peace. As soon as she can eat independently, she will join the group.”

The video footage showcase the care the baby monkey has been given. Although the colobus monkeys have the habit of living in troops, the baby monkey is kept under the care of the elder monkeys and the zoo officials.

The baby monkey named Nafana was left orphaned at a very young age. She only had the chance of spending a fortnight with her mother, who died due to a bacterial infection.

The zookeepers decided to name her Nafana, after a town in West Africa. The name holds the reference to her species’ natural distribution.

Although not out of danger, as per the keeper of the zoo, she has been doing well. She is now ready to take the challenge of meeting the visitors for the first time, as the zoo reopened this week.

The king colobus species is referred to as an Old World monkey. They are naturally found in lowlands and mountain rain forests in western Africa. The name “colobus” is derived from the Greek word for “mutilated”, as unlike other monkeys, colobus monkeys do not have thumbs.

As per the African Wildlife Foundation, these monkeys rarely descend to the ground. They use branches as trampolines, jumping up and down on them to get liftoff for leaps of up to 15 meters (50 feet). “They leap up and then drop downwards, falling with outstretched arms and legs to grab the next branch.”

(Edited by Bornika Das and Gaurab Dasgupta.)

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