Statement as issued Wednesday by the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo:
Zoo keepers have named the two colobus monkey babies born January 26 and 28 at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.
Obi (pronouced "oh-bee") was born on January 26 to mother Jibini and father Finnigan. Obi is a male and his name means "heart".
Mchumba (pronouced "meh-choom-ba") was born January 28 to mother Wamblenica and father Finnigan. Mchumba is a female and her name means "sweetheart."
Why did keepers wait so long to name the babies? "We wanted to wait until we found out both of their sexes so we could give them corresponding names," says African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson. Determining Mchumba's sex took longer because the infant monkey clung very tightly to her mother, and keepers waited some time before approaching mom and baby. This clinging behavior is typical in colobus infants."
According to Zoo Keeper Jessica Walker, the babies are developing normally and have undergone behavioral as well as physical changes. "Since their arrival, the babies have developed rapidly! Initially, they clung tight to their respective mothers, and either nursed or slept for the majority of the day. They vocalized only slightly. Now, although they still display the clinging and nursing behaviors of infancy, both babies have been moving more and have found their voices."
Walker also notes changes in Obi and Mchumba's physical appearance. "The first couple of days after birth the little ones were completely white. Their coloration is slowly changing to resemble the black-and-white pattern of an adult colobus monkey. The change will be more noticeable in the coming weeks."
The colobus monkeys will live indoors until the weather permits outdoor access. During the zoo season, guests can observe the troop on exhibit in the African Journey.
Colobus monkeys live in the rain forests of central and eastern Africa, and the survival of their species is threatened by habitat destruction. The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and participates in the Species Survival Plan to ensure genetically healthy populations of endangered and threatened animals.
Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children's Hospital.