This post written by Sara Riger
If you have been through Wortham World of Primates at the Houston Zoo then you have been fortunate enough to see the De Brazza’s Monkey family that calls one of the African exhibits home. You may have to stand at the exhibit and be patient but you will surely see the bamboo begin to move and one or more of four family members come into view. The biggest of all is Albert. He is the father and very territorial so he may stand his ground, stare you down, and even bob his head at you. That is his job. He is protecting his territory and his family. You may see Amelia, the female, who looks just like Albert but is smaller in size. She is the mother of the two smaller monkeys in the exhibit. Her firstborn is named Ruby. Ruby will be two years old on December 31st, 2015. She is a miniature version of her mother, having her full colors. She prefers to hang around with dad like she is a big deal. The newest member of this foursome is Flint and he was born on November 1st, 2014 and was a welcome addition to the family. I would love to tell you about this very special young monkey and his unique family in hopes that you grow to admire and appreciate him as much as the keepers that are lucky enough to care for him do.
After Flint’s birth, keepers noticed he looked larger than Ruby did when she first arrived. Newborns are golden in color and it has been such a delight to see him start growing his characteristic, but still small, white beard, reddish brown eyebrow ridge, and eventual very distinct colorations that makes De Brazzas’s so striking. He has started to show the red on his little bottom and some black on the end of his tail which will be all black as he matures. Infant De Brazza’s cling very tightly to mom after their birth so it did take some time to determine if this was a boy or a girl. The staff then voted and it was decided to name the newest primate that was all arms and legs, Flint. By the fourth day, Amelia allowed her daughter to touch the new arrival and by the next day Ruby was grooming her baby brother. Flint was nursing exclusively in the beginning, but by day twelve he was first observed climbing off of mom and tasting some red cabbage. As the days continued he became more adept at climbing the mesh and maneuvering on the ropes. It helps to have an older sister to set an example. Amelia may have also been more at ease the second time around. There may be other mothers out there that can relate to that. He continued to test food items while still relying on milk from mom and also drinking water.
De Brazza’s are foraging monkeys which means they look for food throughout the day. Here at the zoo, keepers provide all the primates with several feedings. Around lunch time we provide them one vegetable item from their daily allotment of diet. Flint is comfortable coming over to the keepers to take his share. De Brazza’s are a type of guenon so they have cheek pouches to store food and Mr. Flint looks quite amusing with his puffed out cheeks.
This young monkey keeps developing physically and mentally. On March 22nd, 2015, Flint got on the scale in the night house all by himself and staff were able to get a weight on him. In previous months he would stay on mom during this process so they would be weighed together. He is a whopping 2.4 pounds. He now shifts in and out of the night house by himself, oftentimes taking off in front of his mother and sister, a very brave little man. He has formed his own personality, is spending time with all members of his family including Albert, who is very tolerant of his children. It is so much fun to see Flint and Ruby hanging upside down, wrestling, eating side by side, and jumping from tree to tree as they play together. I sincerely hope the next time you visit the Houston Zoo you make it a point to come to the De Brazza’s exhibit. You will be rewarded with some major cuteness and will find it difficult to wipe the smile off your face as you continue your walk through the wonderful green place in the middle of this huge city that we, and the monkeys, call home.