by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Mandrills are the largest species of monkey, but you wouldn’t know that after seeing the newest member of the Disney Animal Kingdom mandrill family who was born on Aug. 8 to mom Scarlett and dad Winston. Scarlett, Winston and their new baby are three of the mandrills that guests can view on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Mandrills are a vulnerable species found in African rainforests along the equator, where their habitat is disappearing because of deforestation and poaching.
This birth is another example of how our dedicated and highly trained team of Disney animal care experts works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) on Species Survival Plans (SSPs), which ensure responsible breeding of threatened and endangered species, in order to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse population of such animals for years to come.
With this birth, we had the advantage of expert advice right here at home. Rebecca Phillips, Animal Operations manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also a Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinator for mandrills with the AZA. In this role, she not only supports animal births like this at our park, she also spends time advising animal care teams at other zoos around the world about the species and helps them take the first steps to introduce mandrills to their zoo.
“There are many reasons why I’m excited to be an SSP coordinator for mandrills. I love helping zoos, including our own, and I love the success stories. As a two-time mom and also a surrogate mother, Scarlett is an example of how we’re helping a vulnerable species thrive, and it’s thrilling to watch her family grow.”
Our work to support mandrills doesn’t stop there. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has provided more than $6.5 million to support conservation of mandrills and other primates in 29 countries.
As far as the new baby mandrill, the gender and exact birth weight is unknown because we are giving Scarlett and her baby plenty of time to bond.
Guests may catch a glimpse of the pair on Kilimanjaro Safaris where you will likely see the baby hugging Scarlett’s stomach, a natural bonding behavior that as the infant grows will transition to mom’s back. We hope to see you out on the Safari!