The new spider monkey exhibit, graciously funded by Dottie Frist, opened on Thursday, April 6. The addition of Mexican spider monkeys marks the first monkey species to be housed at Nashville Zoo in more than four years.
To enter the new exhibit, Zoo guests cross an elevated wooden bridge ending in a treetop view of these lively, inquisitive Mexican spider monkeys swinging among the trees. Half siblings, Sandy and Poppy, came to Nashville from Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL. The Zoo plans to add two more females to the group in the near future. The covered viewing building features materials from around the world including Peruvian textiles and decorative masks hand-selected by Zoo President, Rick Schwartz. Bamboo imported from Vietnam and Colombia and environmentally sustainable materials like reclaimed pallet wood and synthetic thatch complement the exhibit’s Central American theme.
Mexican spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi vellerosus) are critically endangered in Central America’s rainforest due to habitat loss and destruction. Nashville Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for this species to increase the captive population.
Spider monkeys are adapted for an arboreal lifestyle swinging through the trees with a hand over hand motion called semi-brachiation. Their long prehensile tail can support their entire weight and is often used as a third arm for movement. Spider monkeys lack visible thumbs which allows for greater ease while moving through the branches.