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Zoo welcomes rare pileated gibbon
Submitted by Emily Toepfer on Wed, 03/15/2017 - 12:00am
Babies booming at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
Baby Fisher still clings tightly to his mother at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park in Waddell, but the pair is spending more time in the public eye as the little monkey grows.
The rare pileated gibbon was born on New Year’s Day, and is only the 13th of its species in the United States. He was named in honor of actress Carrie Fisher, who died Dec. 27, 2016.
Gibbons are considered the most endangered primates on Earth, and Wildlife World is one of two zoos in the country to house the monkeys, said Kristy Morcom, director of media relations.
Fisher is the second pileated gibbon to be born at the zoo, and brings its total to six, Morcom said.
Unlike some animals that are hand raised in the zoo’s Baby Animal Nursery, monkeys usually stay with their mothers on exhibit, she said.
“They’re very social. If you hand raise them, they lose a lot of that and you can’t just put them back with the monkeys — they won’t accept them,” Morcom said.
Another newcomer to the primate family is Gomez, a black-and-white colobus, who was born Jan. 16 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Gomez currently has completely white hair and a pink face, but eventually will start to match the rest of his family with black fur, except for white around their faces and tails.
Unlike most monkeys, colobus lack thumbs. Their name stems from the Greek word “kolobus,” which means maimed, a reference to their hands, Morcom said.
Over in the nursery, the zoo’s hand-raising team is hard at work caring for multiple species, including a pair of female Patagonian cavies born Feb. 20.
The rabbit-like animals are herbivores and can be found in the wild in open habitats in Argentina, including parts of Patagonia. They typically weigh between 18 and 35 pounds and are 27 to 30 inches long, Morcom said.
Cavies communicate through a number of sounds, from grunts to screams, and often hop or gallop to get around. A pair will mate for life, and the gestation period for a cavy is 100 days, she said.
Three black-backed jackals, which are about a month old, are also being hand raised. The carnivores can be found in Africa, Asia and Europe, Morcom said.
They’ll eat just about anything and weigh about 20 to 30 pounds when full grown. Jackals can be found in packs of 10 to 30 and communicate with a siren-like howl or screaming yell, she said.
A baby wallaby named Rocco has also set up camp — literally — in the nursery. The joey, which is about 7 months old, might be hard to see as he nestles inside a handmade pouch surrounded by a teepee.
The gestation period for a wallaby is only 30 days, because it continues to develop inside the pouch, Morcom said.
“Wallabies can have a baby in all three stages of life,” she said. “A wallaby can be pregnant, have another wallaby in its pouch nursing and one outside the pouch still nursing. They can also delay implantation until the pouch is available.”
The animals communicate with their group, or mob, by thumping their feet. They can leap 13 feet and go several months without water, Morcom said.
An animal that would normally be left on exhibit with its mother, such as a wallaby, could be hand raised for a variety of reasons, including weather conditions, an inattentive mother or if the animal will later be transferred to another zoo as an ambassador for its species, which is the case with the joey, Morcom said.
Certain species are always hand raised at the zoo, such as big cats, which helps them be calmer on exhibit and build trust with keepers through positive reinforcement, making their veterinary care easier, Morcom said.
Other animals, such as antelope with big horns, are better raised by their herd at a healthy distance from people, Morcom said.
“You don’t want them coming up to you and feeling comfortable,” she said.
Babies can be found throughout the zoo this month, including llamas, oryx and gazelles, and other primates such as the Debrazza’s monkey.
The Wildlife World Zoo is at 16501 W. Northern Ave. in Waddell.
Emily Toepfer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EmilyToepfer.
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