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Monday, November 25, 2013

Patas monkey friendship is blossoming

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications


Meet our newest pair of patas monkeys!

Acacia, an 8-year-old female from Kentucky, and SeiKei, a 4-year-old male from California have been successfully introduced and have been spending some quality time on the African Savanna together.

Acacia, relaxing in the leaves.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

SeiKei, looking out over the savanna from his rocky perch.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

First, zookeepers introduced the monkeys to each other through a mesh enclosure to be sure they were not aggressive with one another. The monkeys spent time looking at each other and showed positive interactions through the mesh. It is not always easy to tell if two animals will get along, but fortunately these two showed encouraging behaviors right away. Next the patas monkeys were each given access to the exhibit on their own so they could get used to the environment and scout it out. Finally, they were placed together in the exhibit. Right away, Acacia showed signs of submission: her way of letting Seikei know she would share the exhibit with him.

This pair prefers the same special treats at the zoo, fruits and bugs!
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the wild, the highest-ranking female is in charge of the troop. Our patas pair is quite a new group so the hierarchy is still being worked out. Patas monkeys typically spend much of their time perched high in trees or rock outcroppings, on the lookout for predators and other dangers. You can see both of our patas in trees or sitting up on the rocks peering across the savanna, their favorite thing to do!

The pair perches atop an ant hill structure, the perfect spot to scope out Misawa, the baby giraffe.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Patas monkeys, Erythrocebus patas, are one of the speediest animals on the African savanna. Sharing the grasslands with predators such as jackals, hyenas and leopards, patas monkeys need to be extremely quick and agile. If necessary, a patas can go from 0 to 33 miles per hour in just three seconds! Because they are so speedy, patas monkeys rarely have to fight when threatened by a predator.

The pair surveying their surroundings together.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the wild, patas live in large troops where each monkey plays an important role. Whether in a bachelor troop of young males, or a large family troop consisting of one male and up to ten females, patas monkeys always have each other’s backs. In fact, if predators approach the troop, a male will draw attention to himself by dancing around and causing a ruckus so that the predators focus on him, leaving the rest of the troop to escape. Talk about a good friend!

SeiKei shows off his stunning tail, used for balance and agility in the trees and on the grassy plains.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Troops of patas monkeys spend their day searching the savanna for soft leaves, gum and berries from acacia trees, grass, seeds, insects and even small lizards and young birds. At night, the monkeys disband and each seeks out their own tree to sleep in. One male patas will keep a night watch and will bark to warn the others if a predator approaches.

Acacia skillfully forages for enrichment items.
Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Next time you are at Woodland Park Zoo, be sure to stop by the patas exhibit and say "hello" to these two!

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