DECATUR — A baby howler monkey is the latest blessed arrival at Scovill Zoo, born to parents Andi and Paco.
Zoo director Ken Frye said it's too early to know the baby's sex, so he or she hasn't been named yet, but parents and baby are all doing well. The baby was born July 30.
The monkeys came to the zoo last year -- Andi from San Antonio, Texas, and Paco from Omaha, Neb. Andi was named when the zookeepers there thought she was a boy, because howler monkeys are born with light brown fur and males turn dark. Andi never did, so the San Antonio zoo sent a letter along with Andi that Scovill should be sure to spell her name with an “i” instead of a “y.”
“They might be able (to tell the baby's sex) when it gets a little older and separates more from mom and then do a blood draw,” Frye said. “We're in no hurry to find out. Once they start to get more in the sexually mature range is when you need to know for sure. With a boy, you don't want him and dad to get confrontational and if it's a girl, we don't want them dating.”
A baby's light fur helps them blend into their mothers while they're small, providing protection from predators.
Howler monkeys typically relax by sitting in a hunched-over position, with their tails tucked around their bodies, and that makes seeing the baby a little tricky. But visitors who are patient and watch closely might be able to catch a glimpse of a little face or extra tail.
Scovill also is welcoming two zebras, though Frye said he couldn't talk about them just yet. The Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel reported on Friday that Zoo Knoxville's two male Plains Zebras, Charley Harper, 11, and KT, 15, are moving to Scovill.
The zebras were examined by veterinarians from the Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine before their trip. Zoo Knoxville will be getting mountain zebras, which are endangered, in an effort to help save the species, the newspaper reported.
Mountain zebras are larger than plains zebras and stand about 5 feet tall at the shoulder, whereas plains zebras are only about 4 feet tall.
Other changes coming up are that blue and gold macaw Azul has been taken inside for the time being while his aviary is repurposed for the zoo's toucans. The red-tailed hawk and turkey vulture are back out on display after being inside for some time.
Neither can fly, as they were rescued with significant injuries that prevent flight, but Frye said they get along with each other well and share an exhibit next to the zebra exhibit, which is temporarily empty.
Tilly, the gray wolf, lost her companion Timber recently. Timber died a few weeks ago and Tilly has been alone for the second time. Her first companion, her nephew Mowgli, died in 2014. Two wolf pups will join Tilly at the zoo soon.