The strange, nighttime cries you hear coming from the trees in Eastern Africa don't belong to wayward children in distress. They are the unique, childlike sounds of the bush baby, a small, nocturnal prosimian with exceptional jumping ability and keen night vision.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, managers of one of the largest collections of prosimians in the country, is happy to announce the November 15 birth of an infant Mohol bush baby, (Galago moholi) one of fewer than 15 bush babies on exhibit in all of North America.
The as-yet-unnamed little bush baby is the offspring of mother, Yetty, and father, Yaupon, one of only four breeding bush baby pairs in North America. The two bush babies came to Cleveland from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle when they closed their nocturnal exhibit.
"Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is dedicated to nocturnal prosimians, and to using research and different husbandry techniques to contribute to the body of information about bush babies and increase their numbers," said Curator of Primates and Small Mammals Dr. Chris Kuhar. "We're very lucky to have this baby here, and while he spends most of his time in the nest box, he gets bolder and ventures out more every day."
Some of the nocturnal prosimian research at the Zoo involves testing the effects of light on the health of the animals. One of the graduate level research projects under way checks melatonin levels in the prosimians' saliva. This will help Zoo staff determine if nocturnal exhibit lighting levels promote healthy amounts of sleep. The results of this study could help zoos around the world adjust the lighting in their nocturnal exhibits and improve the health of their animals.
The Zoo's three Mohol bush babies currently share a mixed nocturnal exhibit with two pottos and three giant elephant shrews in the Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular discounted winter admission through March 31, 2011 is $7 per person, $5 for kids ages 2-11 and free for Zoo members and children younger than 2. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 77, 90 and 480.