Friday, February 15, 2008

Winnipeg Zookeeper 'Adopts' Baby Monkey

cj monkeyA zookeeper at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo has taken on round-the-clock care for an orphaned baby squirrel monkey.

The monkey, dubbed CJ, was born Nov. 2. He lost his mother to an infection when he was just a month old.

Since then, he has been cared for by Jacquie Randall, a zookeeper who has become his surrogate mother.

"He's a real character," she said Thursday as her charge crawled around her head, peeking in her ears and poking at her teeth.

"He's typical of what you'd think of for a monkey — always getting into trouble, always getting into things."

CJ goes home with Randall, riding in a special car seat, and sleeps in a cage filled with plush animals larger than he is.

"For the first month and a half, he was fed round the clock every three hours, now he lets me sleep until six," she said.

CJ is tiny, weighing only 300 grams. He's starting to eat a small amount of solid food — mainly bits of fruits and vegetables. Like most children, zoo officials say, "he is terrified of broccoli."

Randall is gradually introducing CJ to his monkey family. He is expected to move in with them in the next few months.

"Right now, all I do is I stand outside cage with him… and get him used to the sounds," she said. "But I also made a video of his family, so at home in his room, I play video so he can start to learn squirrel-monkey talk and start to learn how to interact with them."

This isn't the first time Randall has cared for orphaned or abandoned animals. In the last year, she's taken home parrots, eagles, a kangaroo, an alpaca, and a reindeer.

She's also cared for a baby monkey before, but says CJ — short for Carl Junior, after her fiancĂ© — is special.

"I love him," she said with a laugh. "I'm his mom, so I'll talk about him all day.

Story here.

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