Columbian black spider monkey Norma with her new born baby at Fota Wildlife Park. Photo: Darragh Kane

Monkey business at Fota

People are going bananas around Cork today after Fota Wildlife Park invited the public to name a new born baby monkey whose species is critically endangered.

The Columbian black spider monkey is the third baby born to proud parents Norma and Pinky as part of a European endangered breeding programme (EEP).

Norma is 11 years old and arrived in Fota Wildlife Park in 2015 from Le Bioparc de DouƩ-la-Fontaine in France while ten year old Pinky was born at Fota.

The primates recently moved into their new purpose-built house and upgraded outdoor habitat, which features an extended island and a new water moat and waterfall.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Columbian black spider monkey as critically endangered due to hunting, habitat destruction and a long birth cycle. Females only give birth every two or three years.

Teresa Power, Lead Ranger at Fota Wildlife Park said: "We are delighted to announce the birth of any critically endangered animal. It helps us raise awareness about species loss in the wild and the conservation work here at Fota. European wildlife parks and zoos run cooperative breeding programmes as a demographic and genetic backup to wild populations.

"We don't know yet if the baby is a boy or a girl, but there are two big sisters already in the group, Guadalupe, born in 2017, and Blinky, born in 2020. The new baby has been nibbling at fruit and veg and is becoming more active around the recently upgraded spider monkey enclosure."

The Columbian black spider monkey, a sub-species native to Columbia and Panama, has a black body, long limbs and an extremely flexible tail, with a hairless tip for gripping that, like a human fingerprint, is unique to each animal. It has a pot-bellied appearance because of its large stomach.

The species is the largest New World monkey and is found in humid forests up to 2,500 metres above sea level. It's also an arboreal species, spending its time up high in the canopy. It eats a diet mainly consisting of fruit, though it also consumes leaves for protein

Anyone looking to visit the new spider monkey baby will need to pre-book their ticket in advance on