Lincoln Park Zoo sees snow monkey baby boom

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It's been a busy year at the monkey maternity ward at the Lincoln Park Zoo's Regenstein Macaque Forest. (WLS)

There must be something in the water at Lincoln Park Zoo.

In less than two months, three new baby snow monkeys have been born.

A female named Izumi was the first to deliver a girl on March 18. Then along came Ono less than a month later with another girl. And finally, just a week ago, Nara had her little baby but we still don't know if it's a boy or a girl.

And now the public can see all the little monkeys.

"They're out and about," said Maureen Leahy, the zoo's curator of primates. "Their mothers are doing an excellent job taking care of their offspring."

The monkey maternity ward at the Regenstein Macaque Forest is on the zoo's west side. When it opened last year there were eight animals - three males and five females. Now, there are 12 Japanese macaques at the zoo.

"We're just really thrilled because it's really clear that the animals have acclimated to their new environment and the habitat and facility design and all the work that went into it," Leahy said. "You know when we're having reproductive success, it really feels good."

Zoo officials are not sure which males are the fathers to which babies.

Basically they're just letting nature take its course. But there's also a lot of science involved, specifically in the poop where they can find signs of a coming baby monkey.

"Poop is great," said Rachel Santymare, of the zoo's Davee Center. "It has all the information about what's going on inside the animals. We look at hormones in the feces. We look for pregnancy and we look for stress."

Every year, Santymare and her team collect over 10,000 samples from around the zoo, which allows them to know about all the pregnancies well in advance of birth. And that makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere when the big days arrive.

No surprises and that's the straight poop scoop.
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