By FAY SINCLAIR | Scotsman
Gelada Baboons at Ethiopia’s Simien Mountain National Park
WITH ten fingers and ten toes each, Malachi’s three new babies are perfect in every way.
But the proud father is not keeping a careful watch over his new arrivals in a maternity hospital, but Edinburgh Zoo.
The zoo has welcomed the first of its spring arrivals of the year in the form of three baby gelada baboons.
The new additions – Chandu, Chibale and Chiku – are the first gelada babies to be born in Edinburgh, with the species only being brought to the zoo two years ago.
While the babies have yet to be formally sexed, keepers believe the oldest two – Chandu, who arrived on February 10, and Chibale who was born on March 6 – are almost certainly male, while Chiku who was born on March 10 could be female.
Georgina Cook, one of Edinburgh Zoo’s primate keepers, said: “They are all healthy and happy. The older two are getting quite adventurous, coming off their mums and exploring. They were born in the snow, so they are quite hardy.
“It is nice that we’ve got three that will play together.”
The gelada baboons have only been part of the zoo’s collection since 2007 when a group of seven arrived from Rheine Zoo in Germany.
Malachi arrived from Colchester Zoo a year later and, as the dominant male of the group and the only one allowed to mate with the females, is father to all three babies.
Ms Cook continued: “We’re really happy that our gelada group has bred successfully as it means that they have settled in well.
“The youngsters have already started exploring the enclosure on their own and we’re sure they will prove to be popular with visitors.
“They are already drawing quite a lot of people. They do tend to come down to the front and are quite visible.”
The names for the three baboons have been chosen by their keepers to reflect the Ethiopian origin of this species.
Gelada baboons live in large groups of up to 500, led by one dominant male, in the Ethiopian Highlands.
Edinburgh Zoo’s new additions will stay with the group for several years, and the keepers hope to continue the breeding programme, sending the males to live at other zoos as they grow up.
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