New Baby Mandrill at Animal Kingdom

Florida Guide > Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is one of my favourite parks, so it is always interesting to hear of the birth of new babies. In June of 2011, a new male baby mandrill was born to a first time mother, Kelley, after six and a half months of waiting.

Mandrills are amongst the largest species of monkey in the world, and are regarded as endangered. They are closely related to the baboon. Rafiki, that colourful character from the movie, ‘The Lion King’ was a mandrill, with typical bright colouration, such as furry head crests, manes and beards. The adults also have big red lips, golden beards, and thick purple and blue ridges along their noses. An average female weighs in at around 30 lbs, whilst a male is larger at between 60 and 100 lbs. They normally live for about 20-30 years, and a typical baby weighs just one or two pounds when it is born.

Mandrills are usually found in tropical rainforests, mountains and thick bush, and although they are adapted to living on the ground, they seek shelter in trees during the night. They are quite dextrous, and use their fingers to dig, sort, prepare and eat their food. They have cheek pouches which enable them to carry food, storing it until it can be eaten later. Mandrills forage for sees, nuts, fruits and small animals in the wild, but in captivity they are usually offered a diet which includes assorted fruits, vegetables and greens.

They are sociable animals, living in groups called troops, of around 20 animals. The leader or dominant male usually has the boldest brightest colours. At Animal Kingdom this latest addition brings the mandrill population at the park to 12.

This latest mandrill baby, the third to be born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, has been encouraged to bond with its mother by spending most of its day nursing and sleeping. Its mother, Kelley, appears to be doing well, and is very protective of her offspring. The baby was born with a dark fur coat, and with open eyes. It was able to cling to its mother’s belly immediately. By the age of two months a mandrill baby starts to lose its baby hair and grow an adult coat.

The baby and its mother have already made short forays into their habitat on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, joining others in the group. So next time you go to Animal Kingdom look out for this fascinating new member of the mandrill family.
Rita Fraser

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