It is the first time in 15 years that such a rare Diana monkey has been born at the Moscow Zoo. The first born of the 2016 formed couple came into the world on 26 October. The mother, a 10-year-old monkey named Fiona, was brought from Novosibirsk in 2014. The father, Tuvai, aged 9, followed two years later from Salzburg. Far back in 2002, another Diana monkey couple had a litter at the zoo.
The infant is two weeks old and weighs no more than 600 grams. During the first several months it will be breast fed, and when it turns 3-4 months he will start to be given solids. The monkey menu is quite diverse with plenty of fruit and veg, green twigs, poached chicken, cottage cheese, eggs plus supplementary minerals and vitamins.
“Zoo visitors can already go and see the Diana infant who is growing by the day. The family lives in the Monkey House. If you want to get a really good look at them, we would like to ask you to be patient and very quiet near their enclosure. You’ll be rewarded with an enjoyable view,” said Moscow Zoo director Svetlana Akulova.
She added that the sex of the infant is still unknown because experts do not want to disturb the mother and separate her from the baby. The first check-up will be in spring next year and this is also when the fist vaccinations will be given. Only then will the young monkey receive a name: Monkey House workers will be able to watch it, learn about its character and also get to know its habits. When the infant grows up, it will take part in the European programme to preserve Diana monkeys in captivity. Meanwhile the baby spends most of the time snugging up to its mother. Diana males do not give a helping hand when it comes to bringing up their offspring.
The withering population of the Diana monkey out in the wilds deeply concerns zoologists: the species is listed on the IUCN Red List as vulnerable. The main threats are the reduction of jungles in Western Africa, from Sierra Leone to Ghana, as well as the problem of poaching. In order to prevent the extinction of these unique animals, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria has been implementing a population programme, in which the Moscow Zoo is also taking part.
The Diana monkey is considered one of the prettiest of its family. Their coats have contrasting colours. Their backs are deep brown or grey, their arms and tails are black and they have a white stripe along their thighs. The fur on the base of their tails and belly is ginger or beige and their typical monkey faces are covered in thick white fur. Diana monkeys are rather small; they weigh between 4 and 7 kg and only reach a length of about 40 to 45 cm. However, their long and maneuverable tails can reach up to 75 cm. Males and females differ only when it comes to their size, with males being slightly bigger.
The Moscow Zoo regularly replenishes its collection, which boasts over 1,000 species and 8,000 animals. In 2017, it first received an aardvark and three couples of Gentoo penguins. This year, the zoo received two Amur tigers, a secretary bird and a Far Eastern wildcat, which the Moscow Zoo had not had for 30 years.
Additionally, the zoo is involved in international programmes to preserve rare and endangered species. The offspring of such animals, born at the zoo, are moved to other Russian zoos or abroad. In turn, the Moscow Zoo accepts animals from other facilities from other cities and countries. In particular, Miron the Amur tiger, who was born in Moscow four years ago, moved to the Copenhagen Zoo in March.