Tuesday 30 November 2004
Our resident red-faced spider monkeys - Paulette, Smoky, Branco, Aranya and Cher will entertain you with their individual personalities and antics. Especially when they use their tails like extra hands
Paulette, 23, is extremely sweet and loves attention. Branco, seven, often likes to jump about and watch visitors pass by the enclosure.
Unlike most monkeys, this species has a prehensile tail which is extremely useful for these tree-dwelling creatures. They have a bare pad on the tip of the tail that grips like an extra limb when climbing and swinging from branch to branch. The name 'spider monkey' actually comes from their resemblance to a spider when they spread their limbs.
Originating from South America, the species resides in the rainforest canopy feeding on a mixture of fruit, leaves, flowers and insects. In recent years however, spider monkeys have become threatened by the rapid disappearance of the rainforest and from being hunted for food. London Zoo's spider monkeys are part of a captive breeding programme in an effort to conserve this amazing species.
Red-faced spider monkey The spider monkeys at the zoo are scattered small amounts of fruit and vegetables in the enclosure several times a day to imitate their natural eating patterns. There is also a 'puzzle feeder' on the roof which provides a more challenging source of food for Paulette, Smoky and the group.
Their keeper John Pullen says they are all extremely friendly and have their own quirky habits. "Smoky has an unusual fetish for shoes. He is fascinated with them, I sometimes wonder if he thinks they are attacking my feet or something!" He says.
Why not come and visit our spider monkeys and see what Smoky thinks of your shoes!