Thursday, March 12, 2009

Monkey Business at Disney's Animal Kingdom

If primates are your favorite animals in the whole world, you might have a new reason to visit Walt Disney World this season. Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently welcomed a black and white colobus monkey – the first of its species born at the park – among its animal ranks. This cute little fella was born February 17 after a six-month gestation and can be now seen along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail with a group of five other colobus monkeys.
Though the weight, size, and gender of the monkey are still unknown, the baby monkey is being well-cared-for by first-time mother Kabibi.

“The baby was born looking healthy and vigorous,” said Rebecca Phillips, a primate manager at Animal Kingdom. “We’re encouraged that the mother and baby seem to be adapting well.”

As we’ve mentioned before, in addition to being a great Orlando theme park, Animal Kingdom is dedicated to animal conservation and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The baby colobus monkey’s mother came to Animal Kingdom in 2008 as part of the AZA Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for several other animals, including elephants, cotton-top tamarins, and okapi.

Here are some more fun colobus monkey facts: at birth, the monkeys are covered in white fur that’s gradually replaced with black hair as they grow older. The monkeys are distinguished by their black body and white shoulders, backs, and beards, and they stand 18 to 27 inches tall, weighing between 12 to 32 pounds. Unlike most primates, the colobus monkey doesn’t have thumbs, but they do have long tails that help them navigate the forest quickly. Currently, about 65 colobus monkeys exist in AZA-accredited facilities around the US.

In addition to the colobus monkeys, the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is also home to a group of Lowland gorillas, whose DNA is 98% identical to that of humans. There’s also a majestic silverback gorilla and his family, in addition to other animals like hippos, okapi, naked mole rats, meerkats, and many species of exotic birds. And if you didn’t get enough primate sightings there, the Habitat Habit! Trail in Rafiki’s Planet Watch area features some of the most endangered primates in the world, the cotton-top tamarins. Native to South America, these small animals are named for their long, flowing white hair.

With so many animal encounters that you’d have to travel the world to experience otherwise, Animal Kingdom is a must-see theme park in Orlando. So go pay a visit to the adorable baby colobus monkey and check out all the wonders of the animal world; no passport is needed, just a Walt Disney World ticket from


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