On Wednesday, officials at the Alexandria Zoological Park in Louisiana admitted that two of a critically endangered species of monkey died at the zoo after they had been left out in the cold overnight. The temperatures had dipped into the 30s in the central part of the state and the monkeys, who originate from balmy South America, could not withstand the temperatures and died as a result.
Three monkeys in total were left outside, with only one having survived the cold temperatures. As Yahoo! News reported, officials at the zoo said there wasn’t a system failure, but the deaths were a result of human error. The zookeeper in charge of getting the animals in at night resigned after being put on administrative leave.
The monkeys that died were Tamarins, which are easily identified by the white manes that circle their heads and their small size — they weigh less than a pound. Tamarin monkeys are considered critically endangered because there are only a few thousand of them left in the wild and captivity. The National Primate Research Center in Madison, Wisconsin, said that only about 6,000 Tamarins remain in the wild in northwestern Colombia and about 1,800 of the monkeys are in captivity.
As reported by the New York Times, Tamarin monkeys need temperatures between 76 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be comfortable. However, central Louisiana, like much of the country, experienced a cold snap and temperatures had dropped down into the teens at times. On the night the monkeys were left out, the overnight temperature had dropped into the 30s. It isn’t clear if there is a heated shelter at the zoo that monkeys can seek refuge in at night.
Along with an investigation being done by city officials, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, had asked the United States Department of Agriculture to look into the incident, as well. The USDA has regulatory authority over all zoos in the U.S. The agency is looking to see if there were any violations of the Animal Welfare Act that lead to the deaths of the monkeys.
This isn’t the first time that “human error” has lead to the death of a primate at a zoo. In November, the Inquisitr reported about an accident at the San Francisco Zoo that claimed the life of a young gorilla.
The City of Alexandria refused to give further details regarding the Tamarins’ deaths because the investigation is still underway.
[Image via almaparkzoo.com.au]