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On Wednesday 27/02/13 a female yellow breasted capuchin monkey (Cebus xanthosternos) named Comico will be arriving at the Nature Centre from Apenheul primate park in Holland. In the very near future a male named Beijinho will be joining her from les Vallee des Singes in France. Both Capuchins are part of an International breeding programme to try and save this critically endangered species from extinction.
Yellow breasted capuchin monkeys are only found in the Atlantic rain-forest in Brazil; much of the rain-forest has now gone, leaving small fragmented areas for the capuchins to live in. Comico is 5 years old and Beijinho is 9 years old; we are very hopeful that in the future they will successfully breed to further ensure a stable captive population. There are only about 300 individuals left in the wild and they are currently on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) top 25 world's most endangered primate species.
All captive Yellow breasted capuchins remain under ownership of the Brazilian government, it is a real privilege to become part of this important conservation programme.
2012 has been a very busy year for keepers and staff at the Nature Centre. There have been new enclosures built or redeveloped to house some important additions to our ever expanding collection of endangered species, A major improvement to our visitor experience has been the complete redesigning of the main entrance area. Visitors are now greeted with a number of flat screen televisions giving information on everything from sponsorship, animal feeding timetable, conservation, births, arrivals and a guide to new attractions. There is an open plan gift shop within this space and naturalistic seating for visitors wishing to obtain a drink.
We are now part of the international breeding programme for the endangered ‘flagship’ Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) from the coastal rainforests of Brazil. The Nature Centre has now been granted breeding status; we will shortly be receiving a female once the Smithsonian Institute in Washington who are the coordinators make their recommendations.
‘Pablo’ a Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)is now established into his new naturalistic environment and has become a firm favourite with visitors. ’Flagship’ species can become ambassadors for environmental conservation.
We are developing exciting exhibits which promote natural behaviour(s) and complex environments are developed to allow visitors to see at first hand some of the world’s most endangered species.
We will shortly be receiving a pair of Aloatran Gentle Lemurs; this critically endangered species is in imminent danger of extinction. These lemurs are found only around lake Aloatran in Madagascar. We have recently completed a brand new facility for this incredible lemur. Once mature this new enclosure will be a luscious bamboo forest with a bamboo climbing frame.
Small species are something of a speciality at the Nature Centre; we feel that given the right environment Harvest mice can be as interesting as traditional animals such as lions, elephants etc.
The Birmingham Nature Centre is one of a handful of animal collections in Europe which allows primates to ‘free range’. Our pair of Pied Tamarins, Freddie and Padme are based in a woodland in the middle of our site.They have an in-door area and an aviary to use in the case of extreme weather otherwise they can roam freely wherever they want around the site. This allows our visitors to observe one of the most endangered primates in the world behaving totally naturally. They can be seen hunting for insects and generally exploring their environment.
In the next instalment there will be more information about our new Red Panda and Red Squirrel breeding programmes. Other enclosures nearing their completion are Azara Agoutis, an open topped area for our family of ring tailed lemurs and a new facility for our Reeves Pheasant. There will also be a feature on our ‘moonlight world’ experience.