Meet Ireland’s newest species – Drill monkeys, Julian and Buddy.
The 22-year-old male and the female who’s 28 years old have been settling in extremely well to their new purpose-built ‘Drill-house’ in Fota Wildlife Park – a brand new viewing structure which has just been opened to the public.
Drills are large animals, with the males weighing around 33 kgs, they are powerfully built with large canine teeth and feature a range of colours such as lilac, blue, pink and purple on their rumps.
The mammals, who are closely related to the Mandrills and Baboons and they are not commonly found in zoological institutions, are highly active during the day and walk on all four limbs, on the flats of their hands and feet.
While the omnivorous Drills are good climbers, they are more likely to be found on the forest floor, foraging for their food of choice. The biggest threat to their population is human activities such as farming and logging which have devastated the Drill habitat in the wild.
Lead Ranger Teresa Power said about the new arrivals “Currently this stunning looking pair of Drills are adapting really well, and their transfer and arrival couldn’t have gone any better really. The house here has been specially designed for this species with the heating set at a temperature of 20 degrees.
“We are refurbishing their island where they will have outdoor access to one of the largest Islands in Fota with trees and climbing platforms. They will be joined soon by three females from Bristol Zoo and we hope to integrate them all into one breeding group. As Buddy was hand reared, she carries her teddy bear with her for comfort and our Rangers are working to develop a special bond with her to make her feel at home”
She continued: “This is the first time we have kept this species here at Fota, indeed it’s a first for any zoo in Ireland and the captive population worldwide currently stands at only 76 individuals so we’re hoping to highlight the important work by wildlife parks and zoos in preventing this unique primate from becoming extinct.”
Their arrival is part of an international co-operative breeding programme, who came from Stuttgart Zoo, Germany in February.