Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is happy to announce the birth of a black-handed spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi geoffroyi) to parents Janet and Gilligan this week, after a gestation period of seven and a half months.
Born fully furred with its eyes open, the baby will spend its first 16 weeks of life carried on its mother’s stomach, until it’s strong enough to be carried on her back. Guests may see the baby held in its mother’s arms, but the family has free access both to their main habitat and to their inside sleeping area, so they may not be visible all the time.
Female black-handed spider monkeys usually give birth to one infant every two to four years. Eighteen-year-old Janet joined the Zoo’s spider monkey troop in July 2022 from the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama along with her companion, 31-year-old Bertha. They joined 9-year-old Gilligan and 23-year-old T.T. in the spider monkey habitat.
“These monkeys are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)’s Species Survival Program (SSP), an important part of helping these endangered animals,” Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said. “This species is threatened by intense habitat degradation and deforestation, so a baby born here is an important ambassador, raising awareness of habitat protection and contributing to the survival of its species.”
The spider monkey habitat, opened in 2019, was built to accommodate a large monkey troop and features a landscaped outdoor yard with multiple opportunities for climbing and engaging in social behaviors. An arboreal species, this New World monkey hangs out in the upper levels of the forest canopy in a variety of forestland, including rainforests, mangrove swamps, and cloud forests. The monkeys have free choice in whether to be inside or outside, and large guest viewing windows are offered in both locations.
About Black-handed Spider Monkeys
Black-handed spider monkeys (genus Ateles geoffroyi geoffroyi) are large, extremely agile monkeys that live in tropical rainforests from southern Mexico through Central and South America to Brazil. Also known as Geoffroy’s spider monkey, this primate can move swiftly through the trees, using its long tail as a fifth limb, sometimes suspending by its tail while eating. They spend much of their time in treetops, foraging for food: nuts, fruits, leaves, bird eggs, and spiders. Their lifespan is up to 47 years in human care. Spider monkeys are a highly threatened species, with three species listed as critically endangered, five as endangered and one as vulnerable. The black-handed spider monkey is endangered, with a decreasing population in the wild. Deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and climate change continue to shrink their habitat, while the illegal pet trade also takes a toll.
*Photo by CT Beardsley Zoo