The family at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is saddened to announce the passing of Zuele, a Black and Gold Howler monkey, on January 21. Zuele had celebrated her 32 nd birthday last May 27 with a special Howler monkey “cake” made of her favorite fruit treats, and a serenade from a gathering of current and former caretakers and nationally renowned musician Chris Rowlands. Her advanced age set her apart from other Howler monkeys ( Alouatta caraya ), and from her two companions in the Rainforest Building, Kim, a female, and Cain, a male. Zuele’s claim to fame, however was her sweet nature and fondness for people.
Zuele exhibited an unusual behavior for her species. Normally, Howler monkeys are shy and less likely to interact with humans, but Zuele’s favorite spot was in the very front of her habitat where she could eat her meals while getting close to guests, and offer “high fives” to people who put their hand on her window.
“Zuele was a very charismatic animal, who touched not only her many caretakers over the years but guests as well,” said Curator Rob Tomas. “Zuele would greet her caretakers every morning with a Howler ‘chirp,’ saying good morning, and was always happy to interact with staff. Even when previous staff would visit, they would always make a point of seeing Zuele and she would always smile and ‘chirp.’ Zuele has left a positive impact on all of us and will be truly missed.”
Zuele was born May 27, 1986. Average or median lifespan for a Howler monkey is 16-20 years. Although Zuele suffered from some of the same geriatric issues as humans, including arthritis and loss of bone density and muscle mass, consistent attention from the Zoo’s medical team and her professional animal care staff allowed her to live her very long life in comfort.
“Zuele was one of the most beloved animals in our Zoo family,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “Over the years, dozens of families have taken photos with Zuele reaching out to them, making a connection that is both rare and touching. I will certainly miss going by her habitat and having her give me her ‘smile’ every time I asked her for it.”
About Black and Gold Howler Monkeys
Howler monkeys are the loudest animals in the New World, with a guttural howl that can travel for three miles through dense forest. These monkeys, the largest in Latin America, are a great example of sexual dichromatism, when females and males of the same species have different colors. Females and young of both genders are a golden color, while adult males are black. The species is under pressure from habitat loss as well as being hunted for meat, and for export for the illegal pet trade.
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