NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — There are a lot of cute animals at the Nashville Zoo, but maybe, none are cuter than Dottie. She’s the zoo’s first baby spider monkey.
The zoo is now home to five Mexican spider monkey’s with Dottie, the youngest, at five-months-old.
“Spider monkeys are not sexually dimorphic. So, there’s no difference between males and females (at first), and we had to wait many months to figure out if she was a boy or a girl,” said Autumn Lindey, Nashville Zoo Primate Keeper.
Lindey continued, “We named her Dottie after Dottie Frist. She’s a generous supporter of the zoo, and she funded our spider monkey exhibit. So, we thought that would be a great way to honor her with our first spider monkey baby.”
Baby Dottie is now finally feeling brave enough to greet the rest of the family while clinging to mom.
“Mom spider monkeys do all the caring. They’re not like other primates that will go with other family members. They’re just with Mom. But Dottie is getting to the point where she’s like checking them out, kind of feeling their faces, feeling their fur to figure out who their family members are. She is doing a little bit of that now, but she’s still going to be only with Mom up until almost four-years-old.”
While Dottie’s cuteness outshines the rest, they’re still fun to watch.
“I think it’s the way they move. The way they swing through the trees. They use all of their limbs and all of their tails. I think that people get a kick of how they move and swing through the ropes and the branches,” said Lindey. Spider monkeys have prehensile tails to hang from, she added.
Since spider monkeys are considered endangered due to habitat loss, they are part of the zoo’s Species Survival Program.
“We are keeping the numbers and the diversity good in human care. So, we work with genetics to make sure that everybody is not related in case we have to re-introduce into the wild. So, that’s a way we’re helping out with spider monkeys,” explained Lindey.
The best time to check out the spider monkeys is in the morning when they first go into the exhibit, or in the evening before they go inside.
News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on WKRN.com.