Saturday, January 17, 2009

The wonder of a Woolly monkey

Diego sports a tiny nappy and rubs his face against his “mother’s” cheek. This tiny bundle of fur represents hope for his whole species. He is the third Woolly Monkey to be hand-reared by Dr Alison Cronin at Monkey World near Wool.

Their habitat is under threat but breeding in captivity has proved very difficult. “They are simply dying off,” said Dr Cronin. “They suffer badly from high blood pressure and females often die in pregnancy.

“Monkey World is probably the only zoological garden left in the world with increasing numbers of Woolly Monkeys.” Monkey World has two thriving groups of Woolly Monkeys and Dr Cronin is asking the European Breeding Programme to send all surviving members of the species. “They are dropping like flies everywhere else in the world,” she said.

Diego’s mother is the only female out of 14 Woolly Monkeys at Monkey World, and she would not feed him or older brothers Julio and Paolo.

“It’s quite sad because she loves them and carries them around but simply won’t let them up around her breast to feed,” said Dr Cronin.

Diego is eating four times a day and fruit has just been introduced to his diet – blueberries are his favourite. He’s already mobile and agile and the park hopes to reintroduce him to his fellow Woolly Monkeys in three months.

There's a very fluffy news video here.

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