LONGLEAT’s newest arrivals, seven beautiful colobus monkeys, enjoyed some early Hallowe’en treats in the shape of carved pumpkins at their new home on an island in the middle of the lake.
Originally from East Africa, the black and white old world monkeys’ diet is exclusively herbivorous; consisting of a mix of fruit, berries, leaves and seeds.
“We knew they liked squashes and gourds and thought pumpkins would make the perfect autumnal housewarming gift,” said keeper Georgina Barnes. “One of the team carved them into appropriately-spooky looking Hallowe’en faces but it didn’t deter the monkeys who actually seemed to be even more interested in them and finding out what was inside.”
The seven juvenile males are under three years old and came from three separate collections in Ireland and France. They are all apparently settling in well on the island which used to be home to Longleat’s much-missed gorilla Nico.
The name colobus originates from the Greek word for mutilated and refers to the fact that the monkeys do not have any thumbs. It is believed to be an evolutionary adaptation which enables the monkeys, to move more easily through the trees. They are capable of leaping up to 10 metres and the lack of thumbs allows their hands to act more like hooks grabbing onto branches as they travel at speeds of up to 30mph.
Eastern black and white colobus are increasingly under threat in the wild from a loss of habitat, hunting for their skin and the bush meat trade.
Individuals in zoological collections live for 30 years or more. In the wild their natural predators include eagles, leopards and even chimpanzees.