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Ten fun facts about our 10 Angolan colobus

1. Zoo Atlanta has one of the largest Angolan colobus monkey groups in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoological population in North America, with 10 individuals, six of whom were born at Zoo Atlanta.

2. Of the six individuals born at Zoo Atlanta, we have only had one boy born; his name is Gerri and he is 4 years old. He’s one of the most rambunctious adolescents we have and loves to play with his sisters and cousins.

3. Our colobus range in age from Lami, who’s our oldest at 16 years old, to our youngest, Moira, who turned 1 this past February.

4. Keepers have observed our most recent infant Moira playing and grooming with our female Schmidt’s guenon, Bam, which we haven’t seen any of the other colobus do. In the past when we have had Schmidt’s guenons born at Zoo Atlanta, we have seen all the adolescent colobus playing with them.

5. Cooked sweet potato, peanut butter and peanuts are all the colobus’ favorite treats for both training and enrichment. One of our adult females, Kinshasa, especially goes crazy for peanut butter.

6. The name “colobus” is derived from the Greek word kolobos, which means “mutilated one.” This is because although they are primates, colobus monkeys don’t have true thumbs; instead they have a pseudothumb, which just appears as a nail on the side of the hand where the thumb would be.

7. Colobus infants are born completely white and slowly transition to the adult black-and-white coloration over the span of six months. This is thought to be a way to induce allo-parenting, or “aunting,” where all the females in the group will raise the infants together.

8. Colobus monkeys have an extremely complex digestive system like ruminants (cows), which allows them to eat their primary diet of leaves. Their stomachs have three chambers, each with specific bacteria that allow them to do this.

9. Colobus monkeys are arboreal, which can be clearly seen by their long tails which allow them to balance as they run in the treetops. Their lack of a thumb also helps them move very quickly high up, with little fear of falling.

10. One of our 2022 Quarters for Conservation supported organizations is Colobus Conservation, and they are working in Diani Beach, Kenya, to help prevent colobus from being hit by cars on the main roads by creating bridges across the roadways called colobridges. If you feel inspired by all of the colobus fun facts you just read, you can vote for them here and help to support wild colobus in Kenya: https://zooatlanta.org/conservation-action/quarters-for-conservation/.

Caroline S.
Seasonal Keeper, Primates

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