Squirrel monkey named 'Cheche'

19:17, Jul 09 2012
squirrel monkey baby
NEW ARRIVAL: Mum Ratteplan and her baby are said to be doing well.

A month-old Bolivian squirrel monkey, whose unexpected winter birth surprised everyone at Auckland Zoo, has been named Cheche after a public vote.

Hundreds of people voted online via the zoo's Facebook page and chose the name - pronounced "Chay-Chay", meaning "small thing" in an African language and "God will add" in Spanish - from a list of five favourite suggestions. 

Auckland Zoo spokeswoman Grace Honney said she was delighted with the name.

"I think it's nice, it's a really cute name, and hopefully it will fit in with the personality of the new baby when we get to know it more."
Cheche's mother Ratteplan was among a group of squirrel monkeys brought to the zoo from Europe a couple of months ago. Staff at the time did not know she was pregnant.

Honney said while the baby was supposed to be born in the warmer months it appeared to be healthy. Bolivian squirrel monkeys normally give birth to their young in summer but the new arrivals were still in the Northern Hemisphere breeding cycle.

"All is fine. She or he is hanging on to its mum quite tightly, which is what they would regularly do in the wild. It is quite active, and we're happy with how it all seems to be going."

Cheche's gender is still unknown.

"In the next week, when it becomes a bit more independent we will be able get in there and figure it out," she said.

The family of squirrel monkeys have been removed from display while the baby adjusts to its new habitat, however, Cheche and the other spider monkeys should be on display in the zoo's rainforest before the end of the month.

"It's always pretty popular whenever there are new animals, especially baby ones," Honney said.

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