Simian Siblings go nuts at ZSL London Zoo
Wednesday 20 August 2008
If first impressions count, then ZSL London Zoo’s baby mangabeys have certainly got off on the right foot.
Critically endangered white-naped mangabey siblings Conchita and Luca met for the first time last week and are now firm friends.
Conchita was born by caesarean in March and her mum, Leonie, seven was too ill to bond with her in the vital first few days. Conchita and the rest of her species are so important that keepers stepped in to rear her themselves – with a little help from a teddy bear!
After her relationship with “Teddy” captured the nation’s heart and catapulted her to stardom, Conchita was greeted last week for the first time by her three month-old brother Luca with the offer of a nut.
With only a few white-naped mangabies left struggling for survival in the wild their meeting is all the more poignant.
Conchita’s brother Luca, who was born a month after Conchita, is the first white-naped mangabey in the UK to be parent reared by his mother, Bella, six. Luca and Bella, together with Conchita and her mum, are now spending a few hours each afternoon getting to know each other under the watchful eyes of their keepers.
The story of Conchita’s difficult start in life has made the young mangabey quite the star, with a video of her and Teddy being watched by over 71,000 people on Youtube.
Zookeeper Andrea Payne, who is known as “mummy mangabey” around the Zoo, has been caring for Conchita since she was born. She explains: “We had to make sure Conchita was independent in a number of different ways before we began the re-introductions, so she can now eat solids, is mobile and can drink milk herself. It’s still early days but the meetings are going very and the family gets along brilliantly.”
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Notes to editors
Conchita is the first offspring for both Leonie and Lucky, who arrived at ZSL London Zoo in 2007. Lucky was the first transfer between a non-European institution as part of an EEP. Including range countries in EEP programmes means promotes the in-situ conservation efforts of that country.
The white-naped mangabey was at one time widely distributed in forests from the Sassandra River in Côte d’Ivoire into western Ghana, perhaps as far east as the Volta River. In the 1950s it seemed to be relatively common and was considered a crop pest. In the early 1970s it was seen during systematic surveys carried out in the Bia and Ankasa forests of western Ghana. However, surveys and systematic censuses carried out in the 1990s indicate that this subspecies is now very rare. It was neither seen nor heard in Bia, detected in only four of 14 forests surveyed in western Ghana (including the Ankasa/Nini-Suhien Conservation Area and Krokosua Hills Forest Reserve), none were found in surveys of five forests in Côte d’Ivoire near its border with Ghana, and only a single group was seen in Marahoue National Park of central Côte d’Ivoire, where this primate appears to be rare. (Source: IUCN Primate Specialist Group)
No reliable estimates of the white-naped mangabey population can be made, but its distribution now seems to be highly fragmented. Certainly it has declined precipitously in the last 30 years and it is likely that only a few thousand remain, if not less. Hunting seems to be the greatest threat to its survival, although habitat destruction has seriously fragmented its population. (Source: IUCN Primate Specialist Group)
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit www.zsl.org
The West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) is an initiative of several European Zoos, the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP) and its French Partner organization Conservation des Espèces et des Populations Animales (CEPA).
The main goal of WAPCA is to effectively preserve primate species in the West-African Upper Guinean Rainforest, which are seriously threatened by extinction.