Firmly glued to mum

On 2 September, another new baby was born to the black-headed spider monkeys at Hellabrunn Zoo. The latest arrival is the tenth offspring born to the endangered primates at the Munich zoo.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jörg Koch

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jörg Koch

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Jörg Koch

It may take a little time to spot the newest member of the black-headed spider monkey family: the little one clings so tightly to the mother's belly as she swings daringly from rope to rope in the outdoor enclosure that one can hardly recognise the infant. Mother and child have been firmly glued to each other since the day the baby was born. The older members of the group are very eager to meet the newcomer - but 32-year-old mum Tarantula protectively shields her young under the armpits. No amount of acrobatics by his sister Nina, born in 2013, can change this, as she express her desire to play with the new baby. And as long as the baby remains clung to its mother, the keepers will have to wait to determine the sex of the newborn.

The primary characteristic features of the black-headed spider monkey are long, thin limbs. These primates also have a 60 to 85 cm long prehensile tail, which can bear their entire body weight during their frequent precarious climbing manoeuvres. Black-headed spider monkeys are true climbing artists. They live in the canopy of tall trees in the rainforests of South and Central America, their natural habitat. Black-headed spider monkeys are vegetarian; their diet comprises mainly leaves and fruits. A female black-headed spider monkey attains sexual maturity at the age of four to five years. The gestation period lasts about eight months. After birth, the infant will live with his mother for about two years before the young animal is weaned.

Hellabrunn Zoo is home to five black-headed spider monkeys - in addition to the new arrival and sister Nina, other residents include the female Silka, and the two not-so-young 32-year-old parents Tarantula and Husky. The IUCN Red List lists the black-headed spider monkey as critically endangered. "There is a high risk of extinction in their natural habitat in the near future," says biologist Carsten Zehrer. "We are therefore all the more delighted with the recent birth at Hellabrunn."

To ensure the continued success of the conservation breeding programme, the animals are often exchanged between European zoos to avoid inbreeding. Husky will therefore soon be transferred from Munich to a zoo in Berlin. In return, Hellabrunn will receive the male Tuta from Aalborg Zoo in Denmark. This will allow a new generation of black-headed spider monkeys to grow up in Hellabrunn. The zoo has participated in the European Endangered Species Programme for the preservation of this species since 1991. There are currently about 200 individuals living in zoos in Europe.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the black-headed spider monkeys living at Hellabrunn Zoo can do this in the form of an Adopt an Animal sponsorship. By adopting a black-headed spider monkey, the sponsor not only supports the zoo in the maintenance and care of the animals, but also the zoo's conservation work for the protection of the species.