Spare a thought for ZSL London Zoo’s Bolivian black-capped squirrel monkey Nuka this Valentine’s Day - the nine-year-old male is leader of the zoo’s mischievous monkey family and has a whopping seven partners to keep happy all year.
Which is why zookeepers at the zoo, which remains closed to the public as part of the nationwide lockdown, have helped the whole troop celebrate this week - by treating them to hessian hanging heart bags filled with their favourite mealworms.
“Nuka likes to think he’s keeping everyone in check but we all know it’s the girls who are in charge,” said zookeeper Nick Burnham. “And with so many females to keep happy he’s certainly kept busy - last year we welcomed youngsters Agnes and Pip to the family, and hopefully this year we’ll have a few more little ones for visitors to meet, once we’re open again.”
“In the meantime,” added Nick, “We’re asking everyone to show some love for ZSL London Zoo this Valentine’s Day by donating to help us feed and care for all of our 18,000 animals – with our doors still closed we’re missing out on vital income from our loved-up visitors, many of whom would, in normal times, be looking forward to romantic dates at the zoo this weekend.”
Devoted keepers made sure there was a bag of treats for every member of the mischievous troop, who live together in an open-air walkthrough at the historic zoo, where they spend their days playfully exploring the lush treetops of their South American-inspired home.
Reliant on income from ticket sales to care for the animals and fund their global conservation efforts, months of enforced closures have put ZSL’s charity zoos under huge financial pressure. Vets and zookeepers will continue to provide the highest level of care for their animals, working throughout the lockdown. ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the two zoos, is calling on the public to help ensure they remain open by donating to ZSL.