The confiscated black-handed spider monkey, who arrived late last month, continues to adjust to his new home at the Zoo.
Because nothing is known about his history before he was found at the border this summer, we are closely observing his behavior to identify his needs and help him gain the confidence he needs to fully integrate with our resident troop.
He has physically shared space with several other spider monkeys to mixed results. Although these individuals have consistently demonstrated positive behaviors toward him, he was unwilling to interact with them at first. Juvenile female Daisy has taken a particularly strong interest in him, and, after a few days, we observed the little guy engaging in limited play with her. However, he still does not like being touched or held by other spider monkeys—something he will need to tolerate before he can live with them full-time.
He seems far more comfortable around people and is especially drawn to a keeper named Laura. We are leveraging this relationship to help him come out of his shell.
On Tuesday, we made a major breakthrough with the little guy. Laura used food rewards to slowly coax him out of his current enclosure through an overhead tunnel and into one of the large spider monkey habitats. This was the first time we voluntarily shifted him from one space to another (as opposed to transporting him in a crate, which can be stressful).
We did not expect this to be a quick or easy process, but we have seen some promising signs and are optimistic about this little guy’s future.
Our animal care staff has collectively spent hundreds of hours helping this little guy acclimate since his arrival, and we expect it will take thousands more before he fully integrates with the troop. Click here to learn how you can support quality animal care at the Zoo.