Mixed-up Monkeys at ZSL London Zoo

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A mixed-up monkey is confusing visitors at ZSL London Zoo after taking a shine to another species’ baby.

ZSL London Zoo

Juanita has never had a baby before so it seems like her mothering instinct has just kicked in this time around… who knows what animal she’ll be carrying around next.

A mixed-up monkey is confusing visitors at ZSL London Zoo after taking a shine to another species’ baby.

Maternal Juanita, a golden-headed lion tamarin, has adopted an emperor tamarin baby - much to the surprise of zookeepers.

The surrogate mum, who jumps around the zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit with the two-month-old baby on her back, started taking an interest in her neighbours’ baby just weeks after it was born.

The baby emperor tamarin, who is grey and already sporting the start of an adult’s signature white moustache, was first seen clinging on to Juanita’s fiery orange mane, a month after it was born.

Emperor tamarins, native to South America, are usually brought up by their fathers who carry them until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Senior keeper, Lucy Hawley, said: “At first the father of the emperor tamarin baby was a little nervous about Juanita – but now they all seem to get along just fine.

“Juanita has never had a baby before so it seems like her mothering instinct has just kicked in this time around… who knows what animal she’ll be carrying around next.”

Editors Notes:

  •          Emperor tamarins are thought to have been named after the Emperor of Germany, Emperor Wilhelm II, due to their long, white moustaches. They live for around 17 years and range across Brazil and Peru. They feed on fruit during the wet season, and a small proportion of nectar, sap and fungi. In the dry season, nectar becomes the most important component of their diet, along with fruit and a small amount of flowers, sap, ants, snails and insect larvae. After a gestation period of 140-145 days, females give birth to two infants. The young are cared for by all the members of the troop, including the males. The black-chinned emperor tamarin subspecies (S.i.imperator) is considered to be Vulnerable by the IUCN.
  •          See animals in a different light at Rainforest Life, ZSL London Zoo’s exciting new experience within the Clore Rainforest Lookout, launched March 2010. Enter London’s only living rainforest where you’ll come face to face with a variety of amazing rainforest species including monkeys, sloth and tamandua. Step out of the light and into the all-new ‘Night Life’ area, where you’ll discover the bats, rats and nocturnal wonders that call the dark their home.

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Lynsey Ford