Birth of an owl-faced monkey
On June 13th our female owl-face monkey (Cercopithecus hamlyni) gave birth to her third young since her transfer to the zoo in 2012. The family now gathers 5 individuals: the breeding pair (a 11 year-old male and 8 year-old female), the newborn, a female born in 2012 and a male born in 2014.
The species is hosted by European zoos since 1952. The very first birth occurred in 1958 at Rotterdam zoo in the Netherlands. Despite regular births after that, the population collapsed a first time in the middle 70's: 24 individuals in 1974 against 44 in 1969.
Thanks to imports of wild-caught animals, the population increased again (37 individuals in 12 institutions) with a balanced sex ratio (18 males for 19 females). In the 80's, the breeding became more important and the population reached a peak in 1987 with 60 individuals in 15 institutions. But the number of males has already started to decrease a few years before and the sex ratio reversed dramatically: in 1998, there were 40 females for only 13 males! The creation of the EEP that year didn't improve the situation and the population continued to decrease to reach the critical threshold of 23 individuals in 2011. Only one zoo was still breeding the species at that time: Mulhouse in Alsace.
In 2012, a new breeding pair was eventually established at La Palmyre and a few months later the zoo registred a new birth of an owl-faced monkey after 16 years of waiting! It has recorded 2 additional births since then. With Mulhouse and Antwerp in the Netherlands (which had bred last year its pair established in 2013), La Palmyre is part of the exclusive club of only 3 zoological institutions that are successfully breeding the species. The aim of the EEP is to increase the births in order to stabilize the population in the long-term.
Today Hamlyn guenons are only kept in European zoos (US zoos stopped keeping in 1999) and some African sanctuaries.
Ranging mainly in forests of eastern DRC, owl-faced monkeys are threatened with habitat destruction, hunting and political instability in their geographical range. The species is listed "vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.