Monkey birth surprises workers at John Ball Zoo

A baby white-faced saki monkey was born at the John Ball Zoo on July 17, 2017. (Courtesy John Ball Zoo)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s a tiny surprise awaiting visitors to John Ball Zoo’s South America exhibit: A white-faced saki monkey there has given birth.

Zoo workers were surprised Monday morning to find the baby monkey, the sex of which won’t be known until its first veterinary exam in a few months.

“So far, everything we’ve seen has been really positive,” Bill Flanagan, the area curator for primates at the zoo, said. “Baby’s been clinging to mom really well. Bright and alert. We’ve seen it nursing. We give them access to the exhibit. She’s been coming out and showing off the baby then going back into the exhibit.”

Visitors may have trouble spotting the baby monkey because it blends into its mother’s fur.

Officials with the white-faced saki monkey species survival plan recommended breeding the baby’s parents, Helen and Yaki. However, John Ball Zoo was not optimistic the pair would have a baby because they are well past the average life span of saki monkeys.

The median life expectancy of the species is 10-20 years, but some saki monkeys have been known to live in their 30s, according to the zoo.

Helen and Yaki have already successfully raised three other babies at John Ball Zoo. Those monkeys now live in other zoos.