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February 20, 2020

Baby Guereza Colobus Monkey Born at the Saint Louis Zoo

A male black and white colobus monkey, also known as Guereza colobus (Guh-REZ-uh KAH-luh-bus), was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on Feb. 3, 2020.

The baby, named Teak, can be seen with his large family at the Primate House during regular Zoo hours. The name was chosen by staff in reference to the tropical hardwood tree. Two of Teak's siblings also have tree-themed names.

Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. Adults have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. An infant's hair coat will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.

Colobus live in multi-female families and take turns caring for newborns, a behavior called allomothering. Cecelia, 20, is the dominant female and an experienced mother who is taking great care of the newborn. Since 2011, the Zoo has had nine successful colobus births. Cecelia has raised five of her own offspring, and now her new baby, in addition to helping to raise three other youngsters in the family.

Baby Teak will stay with mom for nursing and sleeping, but at times throughout the day, it's common to see other members in the family, or troop, take the baby while mom eats or interacts with other members of the family.

"You have a good chance of seeing Teak's sister Willow, 3, as well as his half-sister Binti, 6, interacting with and carrying the baby. This is a skill necessary for younger female members of the troop to learn and participate in so that they, too, can become successful mothers in the future," says Ethan Riepl, Saint Louis Zoo Primate Unit keeper.

Also in the troop are brothers Hawthorn, Ziggy and Simon, ages 2, 4 and 5. Thirteen-year-old Kima (KEE-muh), the father, can be seen watching stoically over his family and interacting with the youngsters.

The colobus monkey is found throughout the forests of east and central Africa. The birth is part of the AZA Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black and white colobus monkeys in North American zoos.

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Billy Brennan, 314/646-4633,
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639,
Mike De Pope, 314/646-4703,

More about the Guereza Colobus Monkey