Monkey business with new arrivals at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

19th February 2020

Hot on the heels of the arrival of Rasputin the new polar bear, there is exciting news for monkey fans from Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Two new species of primate have arrived at the award-winning park and will be making their debut during February half term.

The two new species are from different parts of the world. The striking black and white Roloway monkey (Cercopithecus roloway) is native to Ghana in West Africa and the brightly coloured and vocal Venezuelan Red Howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) lives in South America in the wild.

The two critically endangered Roloway monkeys have come from different zoos in Europe to form a new breeding pair. The male, Rafiki, is six years old and came from Heidelberg in Germany and the female, Kayla, who is four years old, came from Mulhouse in Alsace, France.

This is a really important pair for the European Breeding programme as the Roloway monkey is on the verge of extinction in the wild. These are the only Roloway Monkeys in the UK. This species of monkey was listed as one of the world’s most endangered primates for 2018-2020. They are threatened in the wild by hunting and loss of habitat. Rarely seen, they are part of the primate group known as Guenons, which includes the Diana Monkey.

Greg Clifton, team leader for Primates at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, explained what these playful monkeys are like as characters.

"Kayla is still young, but both of these monkeys are very confident and inquisitive. They are into everything – really quite nosey! They love a challenge so enjoy using the puzzle feeders but that could also be because they are quite greedy. They have pouches where they hide their food for later – especially their favourite bits!"

The Red Howler monkeys are different in character. In the wild, they live in the tree canopy and have a diet that is made up of around 60% leaves, which are low energy and low nutrition, so they sleep a lot and generally don’t have to work too hard to get their food. At a weight of 7-9kg they are one of the larger South American primates. Their name comes from the unique guttural roar that they produce using a special adaption in their throat. It can be heard up to 3 miles away and marks their territory.

They aren’t as quick as the Roloway monkeys in cracking puzzles to get food or as inquisitive in their daily life, they take a bit more of a leisurely pace with everything.

Three of these monkeys have now taken up residence at YWP – the male Geronimo arrived with older female Namid from Cologne in Germany and were joined by a new young female Tila who came from Apenheul in the Netherlands.

“We are very lucky to be able to have both of these species at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. They are amazing and I never thought I would have the opportunity to work with them," said Greg.

The Red Howler monkeys will be living next door to the Anteaters in the South America section of the Park. Yorkshire Wildlife Park is one of only 6 zoos in Europe to hold Red Howler monkeys and these are the only ones in England.

The White-Faced Saki monkey family (Pithecia pithecia), that arrived at the end of last year, are settling in well in the walkthrough South America Viva.

During the winter, they spend quite a lot of time inside their warm house but the 6-strong family have all been venturing outside and exploring their new home. Mani, the adult male, is the most inquisitive and was the first to go outside. Ute is the matriarch and keeps a watchful eye on the youngsters.

They have not been as bold as the Roloway and the Howler monkeys but they are getting used to life at YWP – even when they saw a polar bear on the hill behind their reserve for the first time, that certainly caused a few alarm calls! Only the male has a distinctive white face – the females are smaller and brown in colour. At 1.5kg- 4kg in weight, they are smaller than the Roloway and the Red Howler monkeys.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park is open daily from 10.00am – 3.00pm (last entry) closing at 4.00pm during the winter months. There is plenty to see and do all day long, with ranger talks and indoor and outdoor play areas.

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