New Orleans,
15:28 PM

Mandrill Baby Makes Debut at Audubon Zoo

With a helping hand from Audubon Zoo’s animal care team, a newborn mandrill and her parents are settling in nicely inside their World of Primates habitat.

To ensure she gets off to as healthy a start as possible, the as-yet-unnamed infant has received supplemental feedings from the Zoo’s primate staff since shortly after she was born on July 10 to mother, Jinx, and father, Mapema.

In many species, assisted parent-rearing is beneficial to both mother and offspring, providing an opportunity for the mom to hone her maternal skills, including nursing and infant care.

In this case, the primate team began training the expectant parents, who came to Audubon about two years ago, to get familiar with feeding assistance in case it was needed. This was done by frequently showing them the apparatus: A nipple at the end of a long tube attached to a bottle filled with baby formula.

Those lessons proved valuable after the baby was born and animal care providers grew concerned that Jinx was not nursing sufficiently.

“Many hours were spent getting Jinx and Mapema comfortable with the bottle,’’ said Assistant Curator of Primates Brian Craft. "As a result, Jinx now holds the baby in her lap as dad watches calmly from a separate room, while the infant nurses from the hand-held extension bottle."

The assisted feedings will continue as long as the Zoo’s primate and veterinary team finds them necessary. A baby mandrill typically nurses for about six months. The mandrill family will have a choice to be in their indoor or outdoor habitats.

“The hard work of the primate team paid off when it was deemed medically necessary to supplement the baby,’’ Craft said. “Jinx and Mapema are being wonderful parents and the staff has been able to supplement the infant on a regular schedule without having to separate the baby from the mother.’’

Known for their distinctive colorful markings, furry head crests, manes and beards mandrills are considered among the world’s most exotic animals.

They are considered a vulnerable species due to deforestation and hunting in the rainforests they inhabit in Nigeria, Southern Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo. 

The public can help bring vulternable and threatened animals back from the brink of extinction by supporting the Audubon Nature Institute Annual Fund.

Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.