Photo: Allegre Images / Shawna Garcia
Cautiously, they stuck their heads through the small door of the exhibit. Quickly, they darted back. Then, once again, they peeked out -- each time venturing just a little bit further into their new home.
This was the scene as the eagerly anticipated Pueblo Zoo De Brazza's monkeys exhibit was unveiled at the end of July.
Ruby, the petite female, seemed to be the more adventurous one, as she made the first tentative steps onto the exhibit. She was, after all, very close to her father in Houston, and under his tutelage, she learned dominant behaviors.
Kanoa, the big boy who will be the protector and leader of the family, soon got the hang of things, though, and was also exploring the far reaches of the exhibit. He particularly seems to like walking along the lofty fire hose bridge (recycled from one of Pueblo's own brigades) and climbing between platforms on the long pole traverses.
He has also exhibited behaviors that indicate that he may just have the potential to fulfill the role of protector.
In Denver, where he came from, he was the low man on the totem pole. Here in Pueblo, he is displaying dominant behaviors such as perching high up on the highest platforms to survey the environs and keep a lookout. He has been heard vocalizing when a seeming threat is around, such as the llamas out on a walk with their leaders or the construction crews putting on finishing touches. Kanoa fulfilling this role may bode well for the future creation of a family.
In close quarters while they were in quarantine, Ruby may have felt a little too close for comfort, as Kanoa exerted his dominance. However, now that they are getting to know each other, and they have the space of the large exhibit, they seem to be clicking.
They increasingly choose to spend more time next to each other. They are both just on the verge of being sexually mature, so babies may come soon or it may take just a little while longer. We are hopeful.
Visitors are delighting in discovering some of the monkeys's habits and movements. Coming or going, these monkeys are beautiful to watch, with very distinctive markings on both the head and their bottoms.
In addition to stuffing their cheek pouches with treats, they are sampling the decorative foliage in their exhibit. They like to perch high above the observation glass -- but beware to those below: Kanoa has been known to turn this into a splash zone as he relieves himself. They have not yet discovered that their water feature is for their pleasure, but they will.
Guests are not the only ones keeping an eye on the monkeys. Their neighbors, the meerkats, have been very curious and cautious about the new residents. As they almost steal the show with their furious digging, the meerkats always have a sentinel keeping an eye out.
There has also been increased activity at the African dog exhibit as the dominant, Hunter, is trying to apply his dominance during this breeding season.
There is much to discover in this corner of the zoo, and the African animals have finally come together to call this area home.