Goddard, KS – December 14, 2015 was National Monkey Day and Tanganyika Wildlife Park celebrated in the best way possible by welcoming three young mandrills to the family! There are not many mandrills exhibited in zoos in the United States, so Tanganyika coordinated with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and the European Endangered Species Program for over a year to find a group they could pair together that would benefit the captive population as a whole. In the end, Anastasia came from Moscow, and Demetri and M’BiLu came from two different zoological facilities in Germany. Their ages range from 7 to 11 years old with Anastasia (the Russian princess) being the oldest.
Many visitors to Tanganyika may remember Jerome, the mandrill that left the facility two years ago. However, for those unfamiliar with the mandrill, just think of Rafiki from The Lion King with a tiny tail. Mandrills are known for having brightly colored faces (and rear ends) which get even brighter when they get excited. Though the males are often brighter than the females, both sexes boast long snouts and yellow beards. They are the largest monkeys on the planet and are found in African rainforests near the equator. Currently, mandrills are on the endangered species list because they are frequently hunted for bush meat.
There are only 3,000 mandrills left in the wild as of 2014, so the clock is ticking for these beautiful creatures. More and more are disappearing each day and very little is being in the United States. In fact, there are only 25 zoological institutions in the North America with mandrills. Of those facilities, only two have successfully bred the animals in the past twelve months. The US population is reaching a critical point with less than 100 mandrills. If something isn’t done soon to help increase the population, we may not be able to sustain them in captivity in the US long-term. Fortunately, Tanganyika is working with other accredited institutions in the (Zoological Association of America) to create an Animal Management Plan for mandrills in hopes of creating a sustainable population. “We have been working on this project for over three years,” said Tanganyika’s Director, Jim Fouts. “It was near impossible to secure any mandrills in the US, so we were honored to be invited to work with EAZA and their EEP based on our success with other species.”
The addition of the mandrills came at a cost of over $45,000 to our private, family-owned facility. “We knew it was going to be expensive to add these animals, especially without the subsidies many zoos get or a private donor, but we also knew we could have a significant impact on their population in the US,” said Matt Fouts, assistant director of Tanganyika. “I believe all of us here at Tanganyika are excited for the opportunity to create another successful breeding program, and I also think the public will love these guys!” Tanganyika has added the mandrills to our Adopt an Animal program so guests can directly support the new mandrills, their breeding program, and in-situ conservation organizations. An in-situ conservation organization is committed to making sure that endangered and threatened animals are being cared for in the wild. These organizations help introduce mandrills back to the wild and want to see the number of mandrills on this earth grow same as you.
So for now consider adopting an animal or becoming a member of Tanganyika’s R.E.A.L. (Rare and Endangered Animal Lover) membership program.Then when Tanganyika opens their 2016 Season in March, come meet Demetri, M’BiLu, and Anastasia in person and connect with these curious primates. Thank you so much for reading and for your support. See you in the spring!!