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Zoo welcomes new Simian member

delhi Updated: Mar 24, 2009 02:18 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

After waiting for one whole year, staffers of the National Zoological Park are celebrating the birth of a Lion-tailed Macaque, listed as endangered in the schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Born last week, the baby — the zoo staffers say it seems to be a female — is still under intensive care and hence not brought out for public viewing. With this, the Macaque population at the zoo has gone up to six. Earlier, there were two adult pairs and a one-year-old male.

Lion-tailed Macaques (Macaca Silenus) are from the family of Old World Monkey with silver-white mane, which surrounds the head and a tail with black tuft at the end, similar to lion’s tail (hence the name).

Digging into the history of such monkeys at the Delhi Zoo gives an insight into why the animal keepers are so happy. At one point of time, the Delhi Zoo had ample number of Lion-tailed Macaques, which are generally only found in the Western Ghats — Kerala, Karnataka and parts of TN.

However, for various reasons, including deaths due to old age, the number dwindled from 23 15 years ago to just two females and a male three years ago.

Further, the death of a female Lion-tailed Macaque prompted the zoo to acquire a pair from Chennai Zoo in 2007.

“Since then, we have taken every effort to increase their population,” said zoo sources. Six months after the last Macaque was born and when it started eating solid food, zoo officials instructed the keeper to keep the baby away from the mother and allow the latter to be together with the male.

“This brought down the gap between the two siblings. If the first baby had continued to be with the mother, the gestation period – generally six months – would have goon to more than 1 ½ years,” the sources added.