Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Lucky break for breeding programme

Achimoto, one of two new female mangabey monkeys that have arrived at London Zoo

Two rare female monkeys could get Lucky following their arrival to England from Ireland, zookeepers are hoping.

White-naped mangabeys Ankasa and Achimoto were born at Dublin Zoo and moved to London as part of a European breeding programme for endangered species.

After careful introductions, the pair, nicknamed Kasi and Mo, have hit it off with the rest of the group, with dominant male Lucky taking a particular fancy to Mo - who, according to zoo staff, is enjoying the "flirty attention".

Lucky was rescued as a baby in Ghana, and his unique genetics are considered important to the breeding programme. Ankasa and Achimoto were named after the areas in Ghana where the species comes from.

ZSL London Zoo's mangabey keeper Andrea Dempsey said: "These two new females are a really exciting addition to our group, and we're really keen that they breed with our male Lucky - they're getting on so well that we're feeling hopeful.

"White-naped mangabeys are facing a dire situation in the wild, with their habitat being destroyed at unprecedented rates and they're up against daily threats of being hunted. Breeding these endangered animals at ZSL London Zoo is vital to safe-guarding a future for them.

"Zoos around the world are working together as part of international breeding programmes and to support projects in the field with their expertise and fundraising. We're able to learn more about their biology and behaviours, teach visitors about them and preserve a back-up population in a safe environment."

One of the most endangered primates in the world, white-naped mangabeys are suffering a severe decline in the wild due to habitat loss and being hunted for bush meat.

They were named as one of the top 10 mammals most reliant on zoos by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

A European breeding programme aims to preserve a healthy population of the endangered animals.

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