Two new black-handed spider monkeys arrive at CT’s Beardsley Zoo

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Two spider monkeys at the zoo plus two new spider monkeys equals a lot of monkeys! The new additions, the two female black-handed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi geoffroyi) from the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama, joined their new troop in the spider monkey habitat this week.

Bertha, 30, and Janet, 16, were successfully introduced to the zoo’s current eight-year-old male spider monkey, Gilligan, and TT, a 22-year-old female. Both Gilligan and TT have been at the zoo since the spider monkey habitat opened in June 2019.

“These monkeys are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP), an important part of helping these endangered animals,” Dancho said. “This species is threatened by intense habitat degradation and deforestation, so a breeding recommendation from the AZA will eventually allow us to welcome babies to help maintain the population.”

Zoo director Gregg Dancho said the spider monkey habitat was built to accommodate a larger troop of monkeys and features a landscaped outdoor courtyard with multiple climbing and social behavior opportunities. An arboreal species, this New World monkey hangs out in the upper levels of the forest canopy in a variety of forest lands, including rainforests, mangroves, and cloud forests. The monkeys have the free choice of being indoors or outdoors, and large viewing windows are offered at both locations.

“The Spider Monkey Habitat, along with the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat and the new Andean Bear Habitat due to open later this summer, are models for the type of animal houses the zoo will continue to build in the future,” Dancho said.

About Black-Handed Spider Monkeys

Black-handed spider monkeys (genus Ateles geoffroyi geoffroyi) are extremely agile great apes that live in tropical rainforests from southern Mexico through Central and South America to Brazil. Also known as Geoffroy’s spider monkey, this primate can move quickly through trees, using its long tail as a fifth limb, sometimes hanging by its tail while eating. They spend much of their time in the treetops, looking for food: nuts, fruits, leaves, birds‘ eggs and spiders. Their lifespan is up to 47 years in human care. Spider monkeys are highly endangered species, with three species listed as critically endangered, five as endangered, and one as vulnerable. The black-handed spider monkey is endangered, with a dwindling population in the wild. Indigenous peoples often hunt spider monkeys for food. Logging and deforestation continue to reduce their habitat.

About the Beardsley Zoo in Connecticut:

Give free rein to your curiosity! Connecticut’s Only Zoo Celebrates 100the year, presents 350 animals representing mainly species from North and South America and North Asia. Guests won’t want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, maned wolves, and Mexican gray and red wolves. Other highlights include our spider monkey habitat, prairie dog exhibit, and the Pampas Plain with giant anteaters and Chaco peccaries. You can grab a bite at the Peacock Café and eat in the Picnic Grove. Beardsley Zoo of Connecticut is a non-profit organization celebrating its centennial as the mission to help fragile wildlife populations and ecosystems is more important than ever.

Tickets must be purchased on the Zoo website at beardsleyzoo.org. Guests are required to wear masks only in the indoor animal habitats: Rainforest Building and Research Station, as our animals are susceptible to COVID-19. Everyone over the age of two, except those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing them, should have a mask available.

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