There’s baby fever at the Philadelphia Zoo

A white-handed gibbon, Phoenice, and her newly born infant, swing in their enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo. Credit: Charles Mostoller/METRO
A white-handed gibbon, Phoenice, and her newly born infant, swing in their enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo. Credit: Charles Mostoller/METRO

There’s been a recent baby boom at the Philadelphia Zoo as five newborns have been welcomed in the last several weeks.

Moja, a female black and white colobus monkey, was born to 10-year-old mother Johari on Sept. 3. The newborn’s name means “number one” in Swahili. Moja was the first of four colobus monkeys born this fall.

Moja joins Mbiili, a male, whose name means “number two.” He was born to 8-year-old mother Dhoruba on Oct. 8. Nine-year-old mother Zabibu gave birth on Oct. 23 to Tatu, a female, whose name means “number three.”

“Number four” is Nne, a male, who was born to 15-year-old mother Ophelia on Nov. 9.

Eleven-year-old Chua, the only male colobus monkey, is the father of all four newborns.

The zoo also welcomed a male white-handed gibbon who was born to 24-year-old Phoenice. Phoenice already has a two-year-old male named Leo. Both of her offspring were fathered by 23-year-old Mercury.

Zoo officials are hoping for some help with naming the baby and are starting a Facebook campaign here.

“It is always exciting for us to announce successful births at Philadelphia Zoo,” says Kevin Murphy, general curator.

Zoo officials said all five babies are healthy.

Colobus monkey facts

  • Colobus babies are white at birth.
  • They slowly turn to their adult colors within the first month of life.
  • Babies cling onto their mothers before independent play begins.
  • You may see any adult female carrying any of the infants. It’s a supplemental parenting technique called “aunting.”

White-handed gibbon facts

  • White-handed gibbons in the wild typically live in serial monogamous pairs with up to four offspring.
  • Sometimes, they live in multi-male groups or multi-female groups
  • Philadelphia Zoo staff thinks the newborn will be blonde like Leo, his brother.


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