Meet Mr. Moss and his companions Ota and Luella.
Those colorful names have been assigned to members of a species of monkey that has joined the Kansas City Zoo collection for the first time.
They are Allen’s swamp monkeys, with partially webbed fingers and toes adapted for foraging in the water in their native habitat of swampy forests in central Africa. They eat fruit, leaves, bugs and worms.
Kansas City’s 12-year-old male and the 12-year-old and 5-year-old females form a breeding group recommended by a Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Swamp monkeys are not threatened with extinction, but there are just 54 of them in 14 accredited North American zoos.
“We wanted to have something that was fun and exciting but at the same time we wanted to make sure that we were part of a program that was existing in AZA institutions,” said Sean Putney senior director of zoological operations. “So we asked other folks what programs were going on with animals in need of space and housing and swamp monkeys came up as one of those animals.”
Kansas City’s swamp monkeys come from three different zoos. They moved into the exhibit behind the carousel that was vacated when this summer’s visiting koalas returned to the San Diego Zoo. It has an outdoor area for fair weather and climbing trees inside and out. Zoo officials are considering adding a water feature.
On Thursday, the primates were still getting used to their new surroundings, scampering back and forth between their two indoor rooms.
Swamp monkeys have a jowly appearance and their brown, gray and green fur is longer around the neck. Their tails are longer than their bodies.
Although they forage on the ground and in water, swamp monkeys live in trees in the wild in groups of 40 or more.
“This is a start,” Putney said of the breeding group.