Mother’s Day 

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone celebrating this day.

I’m going to take a look at some of the animals at the park who have given birth at WWP over the past 12 months. Detailing some of the struggles that they face as they embrace motherhood, some for the very first time. 

Howler Monkeys

Minnie, one of our female Black Howler Monkeys, had her first successful baby on 21st October 2022. She gave birth to a beautiful little girl who the public helped to name, Marlowe. 

Howler Monkeys are a South American primate that have a prehensile tail. Their tail acts like a fifth limb, allowing them to span greater distances between trees when climbing. This also means that when females have infants being carried on their back, the babies can hold on to their mum’s tail with their own. This strengthens their hold on their mum, making them more secure. 

You can also see our two infant Howlers showing this behaviour whilst being cared for by their mums. It must be quite a lot of strain for the mothers, the older the babies get. You can even see Mila now occasionally trying to push Mali off her as he’s getting too big and heavy for her to carry. 

Barbary Macaque

Pip, born on 1st July 2022, is our first Barbary Macaque baby to father, Momo and mother, Hayet. She is doing exceptionally well and can be seen jumping around the enclosure, trying to encourage the adults to play with her.

For these primates, dad takes a large role in their care and will often to be seen carrying young around and playing with them. Momo takes his baby-sitting duties very seriously and lets the keepers know if they are too close to his baby. Hayet has been a good and attentive mother. She is never very far away from Pip. Even now she keeps an eye on her and goes to her immediately if she cries.  

Bush babies

The Senegal Bush Babies are one of our smallest primates and their babies are extremely cute. They can have up to 3 babies at a time, but generally have 1-2. The mothers will create a nest area for the babies to stay as these tiny ones aren’t able to grip on to their mothers like a lot of other primates. They are a little bit more like cats and dogs, where mum will carry them around in her mouth if she needs to move them anywhere.  

Wallabies

Both of our species of wallabies have been blessed with joeys. Our female Bennett’s (Red Necked) wallabies both have their joey’s still in their pouches are they are fairly young still. For marsupial mothers they are only pregnant for a very short amount of time. Their babies then develop within their pouch until they are almost completely independent.  

For our Parma Wallabies this means that they are carrying around a baby that weighs 750g when they themselves aren’t much over 4kg. That’s over 18% of their body weight!

Egyptian fruit bats

Our Egyptian Fruit bat colony has grown over the past twelve months with another 2 babies. In this species females will carry their infants on their bodies, even when they fly, for up to six weeks. After this period the pup will be able to roost on its own. This allows the mum to go and forage for food. Bats are mammals and therefore feed their pups milk, even whilst flying.  

Meerkat

The meerkat mob welcomed 4 new members to their group on 26th May last year. The keepers named them Zuri, Ajani, Bakari and Sadiki. Their mother, Kiara, is quite unusual for a meerkat mother as she likes to move her babies around almost immediately. Bringing them out to show them off it would seem. It’s always quite difficult for the keepers to determine how many pups there are until they can all be seen together. This is because the females give birth in their underground tunnels.  

With meerkat mobs it is usually the dominant female that will give birth and then the other females will help to feed the babies. This spreads the work load so that the Mother can leave them to continue leading the rest of the group. 

Budgerigars

Our Budgerigar flock grew by twelve babies last year. Female budgies will lay between four to eight eggs which require incubation for between eighteen to twenty-one days, which the female will do solely on her own. Females will stop the males from entering the nest and are the sole supplier of food for their young. These small birds have a very tough job. 

Rainbow Lorikeets

Another of our bird species that have been breeding well have been our Rainbow Lorikeets with twenty-two chicks within the past twelve months. Although, the female is the sole incubator of the clutch of eggs, the male will help to feed the babies until they have become fully independent.  

If you are celebrating Mother’s Day, I hope you have a fantastic, relaxing day with the people you love.  

About Ruth - Head Keeper

Ruth is the head keeper at Wingham Wildlife Park, having been with the park since 2008. When the park was first taken over all of the keepers looked after all of the species, and as such Ruth has a wide range of abilities with the animals here, giving her the right skill set as our head keeper. When she is out of the office (which is most of the time), she specialises in primates.