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Baby Black and White Colobus Monkey Born at Saint Louis Zoo

A male black and white colobus monkey, also known as Guereza colobus (Guh-REZ-uh KAH-luh-bus), was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on Dec. 29, 2017. The baby, named Hawthorn by zookeepers, and his family can be seen at the Primate House during regular Zoo hours.

Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. Adults have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. An infant’s hair coat will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.

Colobus live in multi-female families and take turns caring for newborns, which is called allomothering. Cecelia, 18, is the dominant female and an experienced mother who is taking great care of the newborn, as well as her 1-year-old daughter, Willow. Also in the family, or troop, are brothers Ziggy and Simon, ages 2 and 3, and their half-sister, Binti, age 4. Eleven-year-old father Kima (KEE-muh) can be seen watching stoically over his family and interacting with the youngsters.

The baby will stay with mom for nursing and sleeping, but at other times throughout the day, it’s common to see Binti take the baby while mom eats or interacts with other members of the family, according to zookeepers. This is a skill necessary for female youngsters to learn so they, too, can become successful mothers in the future.

“The new baby is doing really well and becoming very interested in everything happening around him,” says Brooke Johnson, Saint Louis Zoo primate keeper and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutional representative for the black and white colobus monkey. “Brother and sister, Binti and Simon, are doing a great job taking care of and looking after their new sibling; and one-year old Willow is adjusting very well to sharing her mom with her baby brother."

The colobus monkey is found throughout the forests of east and central Africa. The birth is part of the AZA Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black and white colobus monkeys in North American zoos.

About the Saint Louis Zoo
Chosen as America’s Top Free Attraction and Best Zoo in USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Zoo attracts more than 3,000,000 visitors a year. For more information, visit,,,, Snapchat (saintlouiszoo), and