New Spider Monkey Habitat Opens at CT's Beardsley Zoo

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will introduce a pair of Black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi geoffroyi)  in their new habitat on Saturday, June 29 at 11:00.  Proudly supported by the Bradshaw-Mack family, the spacious indoor/outdoor habitat opens to the public this weekend. A male Spider monkey born in 2014, Gilligan, and a female Spider monkey born in 2000, T.T. (short for Tina Turner), have joined the Zoo from the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb. 

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, board members, Zoo staff, and habitat sponsor Melissa Bradshaw-Mack will gather on Saturday for a ribbon cutting event to introduce the new species to the Zoo. Grand Opening festivities include refreshments (cake and beverages) for Zoo guests, free monkey plush toys for the first 150 children to arrive at the front gate, and an education station to share information on the Zoo’s newest species. Animal Care Specialists will be on hand to answer questions from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Children’s activities are scheduled in the Research Station from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  

The new habitat is possible thanks to a substantial donation from the Bradshaw-Mack family, and support from the City of Bridgeport. The Zoo is also grateful to the volunteer teams from CooperSurgical and Citrin Cooperman & Co, who helped with the habitat plantings, and the Mayor’s Conservation Corps for donating plants and materials. 

The habitat features a landscaped outdoor yard with multiple opportunities for climbing and engaging in social behaviors. The monkeys have free choice in whether to be inside or outside, and large guest viewing windows are offered in both locations.

“Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo continues to grow, allowing us to expand on our mission of animal conservation and education. The Black-handed Spider monkeys are another chapter in the story of diversity and richness of life in South America,” said Gregg Dancho, Zoo director. 

“Our heartfelt thanks to the Bradshaw-Mack family, and to the City of Bridgeport and Mayor Joseph Ganim for helping to fund our newest habitat,” Dancho added. Thank you also to our dedicated staff, Board of Directors, and volunteers.”

Mayor Ganim said, “The Spider monkey habitat is another wonderful addition to an already exciting destination in the City of Bridgeport. Gregg Dancho, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo board members, and the staff continue to create engaging exhibits that educate while providing an entertaining experience for the entire family. Visitors from Bridgeport and our neighboring towns and states should absolutely meet the monkeys and enjoy a day visiting the Zoo!”

Melissa Bradshaw-Mack said, “We are so proud to have been able to lend our support to this exciting new habitat. The Spider monkeys are sure to be a huge hit for adults & children alike! Hats off to the Zoo staff for their creativity & tireless efforts to make Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo one of the finest zoos in the country.”

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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. 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 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. Indigenous peoples often hunt Spider monkeys for food. Logging and deforestation continue to shrink their habitat. 

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo:

Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 97thanniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur (Siberian) tigers and leopards, American alligators and Spur-thigh tortoises, Mexican and red wolves, and Golden Lion tamarin. Other highlights include the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.org.


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