Juniper’s name continues a theme of tree-related names for the colobus monkeys. Her siblings are named Willow, Hawthorn, and Teak.
Juniper’s mother Cecelia has six babies now and is taking great care of her newborn. Baby Juniper will stay with her mom for nursing and sleeping, but all of the females in a colobus family will take turns holding and carrying the infant when mom is eating or socializing.
Juniper’s father Kima can be seen watching over his family and interacting with the youngsters.
Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. Adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. The adults also have a distinctive mantle of long white hair around their shoulders and backs. An infant’s hair coat will reach adult coloration at about 6 months of age.
“The new baby adds so much to the dynamics of the colobus group,” said John Velasco, Primate Keeper, Saint Louis Zoo in a statement. “One-year-old Teak, previously the youngest in the group, is gaining more independence from the comfort of his mother, Cecelia, now that she’s also caring for an infant. The others in the group are learning how to care for a baby, as they mimic behaviors of mom and older female siblings, Binti and Willow.”
Her birth is part of a conservation breeding program to manage a genetically healthy population of Guereza colobus monkeys in North American zoos. Since 2011, there have been 10 successful colobus births at the St. Louis Zoo.
The Guereza colobus monkey can be found in the forests of central Africa. The animal is fairly abundant in the wild but is increasingly threatened by deforestation for timber and loss of habitat to plantations and agricultural land. The animal is also threatened by illegal hunting.