Ah, to be 25 again! Some time ago I was 25 years old, establishing myself as a senior keeper working with primates, full of ambition, ideas and focusing my energy on making a difference in the zoo profession and in the lives of the animals under my care. Not a lot has changed since then, although I did reach my professional goal of becoming a curator (and my hair is turning a bit grayer).
But if you were to ask our black-and-white colobus monkey B.C. (which stands for beautiful colobus) what it is like to be 25 years old, she might have a different story tell. B.C. reaches the quarter-century milestone on July 23. For a colobus monkey she’s already had a full life and is enjoying her senior years at the Helen Brach Primate House, where she lives with two other colobus monkeys and four rambunctious Allen’s swamp monkeys.
Caring for an animal well into their senior years truly validates my job performance and gives me a great sense of pride for the quality of care our animals receive at Lincoln Park Zoo. B.C.’s mobility has slowed a bit these last few years. Keepers construct special climbing pathways to provide her easy access to her entire living space. Because of occasional dental sensitivity, keepers will steam her produce to make it softer for her to chew.
Our veterinary staff is also extremely dedicated to B.C.’s quality of life and carefully monitors her age-related medical issues, such as osteoarthritis.
As a result of these efforts, B.C. is an active and dynamic colobus monkey. She still playfully wrestles with the younger female in her group and eagerly forages for her favorite foods—sweet potatoes and leafy greens.
Come see for yourself on Saturday at 10 a.m., when we’ll celebrate B.C.’s 25th birthday at the Helen Brach Primate House.
Maureen Leahy, Curator of Primates