The keepers and myself have been busy over the last few days sprucing up our monkey enclosure. We have a troop of 4 Vervet monkeys here at the zoo; Jay who is our only male and is in charge of the group and the females; Kiki, Kala and Ayanna.
Vervet monkeys being a common species throughout Eastern and Southern Africa are not regularly seen in zoos in England. They are a medium sized monkey with the males getting up to about 7.5 kg and females about 5.5 kg. Throughout Africa they are regularly seen as pests due to their inquisitive nature with often leads them into trouble. Vervets are a terrestrial species of monkey, spending a lot of time on the ground foraging for food. Their diet in the wild as well as at the zoo is mainly made up of fruit. In the wild they will also eat small rodents, insects, a variety of leaves and have even been know to destroy crops. At the zoo along with the fruit they get chicks, the occasional invertebrate as well as a specialized monkey concentrate food.
We have planted lots of different plants and small trees to give the Vervets a more natural looking enclosure, all the logs and substrate have been replaced, a new rope bridge is in place as well as new enrichment items added to keep the little guys active.
The enclosure they are currently in is now looking a bit dated and is not a favorite with the keepers. The management at the zoo are aware of this problem and with input from the keepers are coming up with plans to build our monkeys a brand new enclosure with a bigger house, loads more ground space as well as fully grown trees to climb around in. Until this is built though, the keepers will constantly be rearranging, adding and taking away items and enriching the lives of our monkeys to the best of their abilities.