Baby Willow was born January 10 to 17-year-old mother Cecelia and 10-year-old father Kima. A zoo spokesperson said Cecelia is taking great care of Willow and her brother, Ziggy.
“Well, it was really exciting for us,” says Brooke Johnson, primate keeper at the Saint Louis Zoo. “She was actually born on her big brother’s, Ziggy, his first birthday. We had no idea that was going to happen. Ziggy was a little shocked as well.”
At this time a year ago, Ziggy, named after musician David Bowie, was the star of the Colobus family in the primate house. But now Willow will share birthday billing on January 10 with her big brother.
“It’s exciting for us to finally pick a girl name,” Johnson says.
Zoo keepers and curators voted on the new baby name.
Cecelia’s other son, 2-year-old Simon, is learning to carry his baby sister around and help tend to her.
“You see it a lot in macaques and capuchins and in colobus as well,” says Johnson. “It’s called allomothering. It’s where all the females and the younger males—in our case Ziggy and Simon—you see them interested in their sibling. But you see all the females taking part in raising the baby.”
Colobus monkeys are found throughout the forests of east and central Africa.
Infant colobus monkeys are born with all white hair and a pink face. They’ll reach adult coloration at 6-months of age, consisting of primarily black hair and white hair encircling their faces and half their tails.
“We celebrate every birth around here and everybody’s birthday,” says Johnson. “We do something a little special and give everybody extra special treats. But as far as a new colobus baby, we’re really excited to add a new member to this ever growing family and watch it play out. It’s really kind of fun.”