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Zoo News Blog

Houston Zoo Hand-Raising Infant Schmidt’s Red-Tailed Monkey

In the early hours of April 10, a male Schmidt’s redtailed monkey was born to mother Njeri and has been named Peter Rabbit in honor of Easter weekendPeter is being hand-raised by keepers and veterinary staff members after the infant could no longer hold on to mom.  

On the morning of his birth, the keepers found Peter in mom’s arms; however, later that day he appeared weak and fell from mom and onto the hay covered floor. The keeper team and vets suspect that Njeri may have low milk production, so they evaluated the mom and baby. Peter was dehydrated and had low blood sugar and was given supportive treatments including subcutaneous fluids and sugar before putting him back with mom. Unfortunately, he quickly developed weakness again and Peter needed to be separated again from his mom for care. 

After moving Peter and Njeri to the Zoo’s veterinary clinic, the animal care specialists bottle-fed him with mom nearby in hopes they could reunite him quickly. During his medical check, the Zoo’s veterinarians discovered that he had a skull defect and took radiographs (x-rays). These were sent to a radiologist and a human pediatric neurologist where it was confirmed that he had skull fracture. The team made the decision to continue to hand-raise the infant so they can continue to monitor his head injury closely. It is unknown how he was injured. 

At this point, he seems perfectly normal and his caregivers have hope that the fracture and any potential damage will heal without any issues with a goal of getting him strong enough to be reunited with mom as soon as possible. 

Schmidt’s redtailed monkeys are known for their distinctive heart-shaped markings on their nose and are native to central Africa. The Houston Zoo is home to six red-tailed monkeys including the new baby. The species is vulnerable to habitat loss and hunting, and to help save them in the wild, Houstonians can recycle old cellphones and handheld electronicsCellphones and other small electronics often contain coltan, a material mined in the parts of Africa red-tailed monkeys rely on for habitats.