Rare event at Moscow Zoo: Two lion-tailed macaques born close together

November 13
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The Moscow Zoo welcomed its second lion-tailed macaque born this year. It is rare to see such fertility among an endangered species of macaque, and what’s more, the first time ever at the Moscow Zoo. Lion-tailed macaques, or wanderoo, are one of the rarest primates on the planet; the species is included in the Red List of Threatened Species. They rarely breed in captivity.

Now the wanderoo family at the Moscow Zoo has six members: the group’s leader, male monkey Kai, female Georgette and her younger sister Colette, as well as two young macaques. One more female, Kai’s mother, lives in a separate enclosure. Colette gave birth this summer, and then Georgette. Both newborns are males.

“Lion-tailed macaques got their name from their resemblance to lions: they have light-coloured tufts on their tails and fluffy silver manes. The birth of the second macaque is a great joy and good fortune for the zoo. We have comfortable conditions for the full life and breeding of the animals: they get the necessary care and a balanced diet. Jointly with the international zoo community, we are working on producing a reserve population of these wonderful monkeys in captivity,” said Svetlana Akulova, Director of the Moscow Zoo.

Georgette accepted her offspring at once and started to feed him. He keeps close to her, hiding in her thick black fur. Still, the young wanderoo is already inquisitive and sometimes runs around the enclosure studying the surroundings.

The young will subsist off their mothers’ milk until the age of six months and then switch to solid food. Like other primates, macaques need a diverse diet, which consists of 80 foods. For example, they eat papaya, dried fruit, samphire and Jerusalem artichoke. They like getting bananas, tomatoes and lettuce as treats. The monkeys are also keen on hunting crickets that the zoo workers let into the enclosure. In addition, zoologists give them toys stuffed with food; macaques have to show their smarts to get it out.

The newborn only vaguely resembles his relatives. He is covered with silky fur, but in a couple of months, it will mature. He likes playing with his elder brother. The latter got used to the enclosure, moves around without his mother’s help and eats like an adult macaque. The young monkeys will reach the size of a grown-up approximately by the age of two. By that time, they will also have silver fur on their heads.

The young macaques live together with their parents in the Monkey House on the zoo’s new territory. The family has a spacious enclosure near the diana monkeys and weeper capuchins. The Moscow Zoo plans to post videos about the rare primates’ life on its social media pages. This way all those interested will be able to watch the macaques grow from the safety of their homes.

In the wild, lion-tailed macaques live in southwestern India — in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu — at a height of over 2,000 metres above sea level. They inhabit evergreen forests and mountainous areas. The monkeys spend most of their lives in trees, almost never coming down to the ground due to fear of predators.

A wanderoo’s body is mostly covered with black fur, while the tuft on its tail and the mane around its head are silver-coloured. Adults measure up to 55 cm tall, and their tail reaches 35 cm in length. Females weigh about three to six kilograms, and males can weigh between 5 and 10 kilograms. In the wild, these animals live for about 15 to 20 years and up to 35 years in captivity.

The natural population of macaques is shrinking with every year. In the wild, their number does not exceed 4,000. To prevent the species from going extinct, Europe adopted a conservation programme for lion-tailed macaques in captivity. The Moscow Zoo has been actively involved in the initiative for 20 years.

Under the programme, primatologists pair male and female animals and create the right conditions for their reproduction. The resulting offspring are sent to the world’s major zoos, and once they have reached sexual maturity, the new animals participate in creating a stable and genetically diverse population of lion-tailed macaques in captivity. When the little ones born at the Moscow Zoo mature, they will also go to other zoos.

This year, rare Amur tigers, a night monkey, cormorants, Dalmatian pelicans, maned wolfs and Humboldt penguins have had offspring at the zoo. Other young animals born at the Moscow Zoo this spring include a rare ring-tailed lemur and a black stork. The zoo welcomed a huge cloud rat pup in June and a small hornbill in July. Pink and red flamingos, rare Asian lance-head snakes, king pythons and white-tailed sea eagles were also born at the Moscow Zoo this year.

Source: mos.ru

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