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Belfast Zoo's new monkeys arrive just in time for a 'howling' Halloween

Published 29/10/2015


Have you heard strange howls echoing across Cave Hill this Halloween?

Fear not - it isn't a ghoul or a spirit - it’s just Belfast Zoo’s latest arrivals just in time for the spooky season.

The zoo welcomed two Venezuelan red howler monkeys to the Cave Hill site on Thursday October 22.

They are the loudest land animals and their vocals can be heard up to a fear miles away.

Male, Watu (8)  and female, Ghuma (5) moved from Leeuvarde Zoo and can now be seen in Belfast Zoo’s monkey house.

Zoo curator, Andrew Hope said: “They make a series of howling, barking and grunting noises which some people compare to the sound of wind blowing through a tunnel.

"However, North Belfast residents don’t need to panic as, despite this primates’ reputation, they spend long periods of time sitting quietly, eating or digesting food.” 

Howler monkeys are a South American species of new world monkey. 

The species is one of the largest primates in South America and these monkeys have long prehensile tails, which they use to cling to tree branches and to climb through the rainforest.

Red howler monkeys are facing increasing threats as they are heavily hunted and their territories have been reduced by human encroachment.

Zoo manager, Mark Challis said: “Here at Belfast Zoo, we have vast experience of caring for many different, special and endangered primate species, especially leaf-eating monkeys!  We are delighted to be adding to this experience with our pair of Venezuelan red howler monkeys.  We are one of only four zoos in Europe to care for this stunning primate and we feel incredibly privileged to welcome Ghuma and Watu to the Belfast Zoo family.”

You can visit the new arrivals this Saturday (October 31) for Boo at the zoo.

Kids in full fancy dress go free and there will be fiendish fun for all the family with a range of eerie activities.

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