“Rain, bugs, birds, even the sight of us raking makes her curious,” says zoo keeper Ashley Hubbard as she talks about Nylon, the zoo’s new white-faced saki monkey. “She’s especially alert when peacocks walk by. Her eyes widen and she follows them along the exhibit.”
Hubbard was instrumental in welcoming Nylon to the zoo back in November and helped to acclimate Nylon to her new surroundings. “Nylon received excellent care at her previous facility, but it was an indoor exhibit, so the outdoor environment is all new to her,” states Hubbard. Nylon lives with Dudley, the zoo’s resident male saki monkey.
Training is also an important part of Nylon’s life at the zoo. Behavior management coordinator Holly Walsh advises zoo keepers on positive reinforcement training, which ultimately benefits the animals.
Walsh discusses animal training in greater detail, “With positive reinforcement training, animals are taught to participate in their daily care and, in turn, receive rewards for doing so. [Nylon] is learning to shift between areas and to hop on a scale for weight monitoring. Nylon and Dudley are even learning to eat treats side-by-side without stealing from one another. These are all feats that are taught in a positive, trust-enhancing way by Ashley [Hubbard].”
Hubbard’s appreciation and respect for the sakis is evident as she works near their exhibit. “We train both Nylon and Dudley to make their care easier and give them choices. When animals have a choice on whether or not to do a behavior, it’s less stressful for them. We also provide enrichment to help them keep their wild senses. We want them using their brains and muscles every day.”
Nylon and Dudley are located in Central Zoo, across from the American alligator exhibit. White-faced saki monkeys are sexually dimorphic, meaning the females look different than the males. In the case of white-faced sakis, only the males feature a white face, so it’s easy to figure out which monkey is Nylon and which monkey is Dudley. Look for the pair on your next zoo visit!
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