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Moonstruck Monkeys!

We are delighted to welcome our newest arrivals, two Douroucouli monkeys, also known as Night monkeys or Owl monkeys!

These small monkeys, from South America, are the worlds’ only nocturnal monkey and are most active in the early hours and later in the day, leaving their sleeping sites after sunset and returning before sunrise. Owl monkeys will travel twice as far on bright nights when the moon is full than on dark nights.

Julie Matthews, Education and Research Officer for the Trust said ‘Dusk and Dawn came to us from Marwell Zoo in Hampshire they have settled in very well here in a mixed exhibit with Tree shrews and a Mouse deer. Owl monkeys are unusual in their appearance compared to other primates because of their disproportionately large, brown eyes which have evolved as an adaptation to their nocturnal lifestyles, seeing almost entirely in black and white. Nocturnal behaviour may seem a disadvantage to animals like primates that have a high dependence on vision, with their food preferences more difficult to find at night and the canopy being more dangerous in dim light, but Owl monkeys seem to have been very successful in exploiting this niche, many insects can be heard at night and daytime predators are not a threat’

Only one infant is born each year. The male is the primary caregiver, and the mother only carries the infant for the first week or so of its life and for nursing, the rest of the time is spent on the father. The youngster becomes independent at about five months of age and is weaned by seven months.

Aggressive behaviour between group members is exceptionally rare. There may be some inter-group aggression at their range boundaries and at fruiting trees, where they will vocalising loudly, give stiff-legged jumping displays, chase and wrestle each other, but theses exchanges do not last long with no ‘winner’ and all involved retreating back to their own area.

They have special glands under their tails which secrete chemical signals that are used to display route paths, sexual indication, territory markings, and food locations. They also urinate on their hands and feet as they walk across branches for the same purpose as their tail glands.

 

Come and visit them soon!

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