Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Pint-Sized Baby Mandrill Monkey ‘Saffron’
Come and celebrate the arrival of an adorable baby mandrill at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, reminiscent of the iconic scene from “The Lion King.
“Meet Saffron, a tiny baby girl weighing less than three pounds, who could almost fit in the palm of your hand. Despite her current size, mandrills are the largest species of monkeys globally, and Saffron could grow up to 25 pounds in a few years. For now, she’s clinging tightly to her mom, Hazel, and nursing in the treetops of their habitat on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
In mandrill social structures, moms take on most of the parental responsibilities, and Hazel has been sweet and nurturing since Saffron’s birth on July 24. Similar to humans soothing their babies by rocking them, Hazel often grooms Saffron to provide comfort. The bond between them is inseparable, and even Saffron’s sister, Ivy, has yet to hold her.
Mandrills, known for their vibrant colors, exhibit brilliant shades of blue, red, and pink on their faces and sport yellow manes, much like Rafiki, the character from “The Lion King” inspired by this species. Their colorations and patterns are unique, with no two strands of hair being the same. Saffron will develop her distinctive and bright coloration once she fully matures in three to four years.
Mandrills are equally colorful on their backside, which aids their horde or family group in following each other as they navigate the dense forests of Africa. With only about 4,000 mandrills remaining in the wild, Saffron’s birth is excellent news for this vulnerable species. It demonstrates our commitment to work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, ensuring responsible breeding of endangered species in managed care to establish healthy and genetically diverse animal populations for the future.
In addition to this effort, Disney’s Animals, Science, and Environment collaborated with Durham University and the Jane Goodall Institute to help rescued and rehabilitated mandrills return to their native habitats in the Republic of the Congo. Through the measurement of hormone levels, Disney’s science team at Animal Kingdom confirmed that the rehabilitated mandrills were thriving after their release and even expanded the family troop with the arrival of two new babies.
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