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The newest member of the colobus family practices some climbing skills. Photo by Kathy Street, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

Newest member of the primate family is now hopping, leaping and hanging by its tail

 A gravity-defying acrobatics show debuted at the Oregon Zoo this week as a 2-month-old colobus monkey began learning to climb. Though the fluffy white youngster has yet to develop the long, cape-like fur of its parents, it’s well on the way to mastering their signature climbing and leaping abilities.

“Colobus monkeys are excellent climbers,” said Colleen Reed, a keeper who cares for the zoo’s primates. “Though they don’t have thumbs, they use their long fingers as hooks to help them leap from tree to tree.”

See video of the colobus baby climbing at http://bit.ly/colobusclimb

The baby can be seen hopping, leaping and hanging by its tail, but never straying too far from the grownups. Colobus monkeys practice a style of collective rearing known as alloparenting where the adults take turns caring for babies in the family. Biologists believe this parenting style accounts for colobus babies’ striking all-white fur, which makes them easy to identify within a large family group.

The active youngster was born June 12 at the zoo to first-time mom Violet. Caregivers won’t know whether the baby is male or female until its initial veterinary check, probably in a few weeks.

Visitors can catch a glimpse of the climbing practice in the zoo’s Africa Rainforest area, where the colobus monkeys share their waterfall habitat with Allen’s swamp monkeys. Because of their calm nature, the colobus monkeys do very well in this multispecies environment.

“A lot of people miss the colobus habitat, since it’s a bit tucked away,” said Reed. “It’s in a beautiful part of the zoo, between bats and flamingos.”

As part of the Metro family, the Oregon Zoo helps make greater Portland a great place to call home. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects focused on saving animals from extinction include studies on polar bears, orangutans and cheetahs.

Support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation enhances and expands the zoo’s efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare. Members, donors and corporate and foundation partners help the zoo make a difference across the region and around the world.

The zoo opens at 9:30 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit trimet.org for fare and route information.​








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