POWELL, Ohio ¬– Two baby colobus monkeys were born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium less than 24 hours apart making Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a colobus monkey born on May 3, 2013 and named after the quirky Big Bang Theory character, a big brother.
The first male colobus monkey born overnight on May 1 is named Dr. Leonard Hofstadter and a second male who was born in the early hours of May 2 is named Howard Wolowitz after Sheldon Cooper’s friends and coworkers on the show.
Leonard is the offspring of mother Claire and father Radi, who are also the parents of Sheldon. Howard’s father is also Radi but his mother is Jabari, a first time mom and sister of Claire.
Jabari is a little inexperienced and is slowly adjusting to her new role as mom. Fortunately, colobus monkeys practice allo-parenting which is the mutual handling of infants by other female colobus monkeys. Both females have been seen holding both babies in order to give one another a rest. Claire has even been seen allowing both babies to nurse at the same time. Jabari is learning from her older sister Claire, who has been helping her.
he pairing of Radi with Claire and Jabari was a recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program for colobus monkeys. The SSP is a cooperative management plan to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species. Not only are these two births successes for the program, but also for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
“We are delighted to have two new births that will help sustain the population of these amazing monkeys,” said Audra Meinelt, Assistant Curator of Congo Expedition at the Columbus Zoo.“Having two babies so close together will provide the kids siblings to play with and learn from as they grow into adulthood.”
The birth of Dr. Sheldon Cooper made national news because of the name that was selected for him. The zookeepers in the Congo Expedition region of the Columbus Zoo choose themed names for groups of colobus monkeys born during a certain timeframe. They are all fans of the Big Bang Theory and decided to name this group of babies after the show’s popular characters.
Colobus monkeys produce a single young after a gestation of approximately 158 days. Females can produce one young approximately every 12 months and the sexual maturity of a colobus monkey in a zoo setting is five years old for males and three years old for females. Black and white colobus monkeys live in a cohesive group called a troop. They are highly social primates that can often rely on the group to help raise their young.
Colobus monkeys are born completely white with pink skin, but gradually their coat will develop the coloration of a full adult colobus monkey of black and white at around four to six months of age. Now a little over a year old Sheldon not only has developed the black and white coloring, but also long fringe.
Colobus monkeys are found across equatorial Africa in habitats that range from tropical forests to the savanna woodland. Their status in the wild is common, but the major threats they face are habitat destruction, hunting for their skin and bush meat as well as live capture for illegal sale or trade. In the wild, a female colobus monkey will use her long white hair to hide her baby from predators.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 575 species from around the globe. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates the Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; contributing more than $1 million annually in privately raised funds to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.