A ‘Gem’ of a Spider Monkey Joins the Zoo

Posted Date

February 20, 2024


Animal Updates, In The News

Meet the newest resident of the Primates of the World building at the Milwaukee County Zoo: a female, black-handed spider monkey named Topaz! She’s 31 years old and can now be viewed on alternating days in the indoor habitat, sharing space with her male companion, HueHue, 27.

Topaz arrived Nov. 15 from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. She completed a routine 30-day quarantine period at MCZ’s Animal Health Center — standard procedure for incoming animals to ensure there are no health concerns. However, her time at the Animal Health Center was extended a bit longer due to HueHue needing a dental procedure before they could be reunited. Reunited? Yes, Topaz and HueHue lived together previously at the Audubon Zoo until 2019. The animal care team shares, “Both HueHue and Topaz are relatively easy-going.” After being cautiously re-introduced, “They’re old friends again.”

HueHue (top) and Topaz (bottom)

Topaz can be identified by her distinctive dark body color, while HueHue is silver/blonde. The care team notes, “Topaz is a gem, very sweet and relaxed.” HueHue had been living alone since his last female companion, Myrtle, died from natural causes.

Topaz and HueHue rotate indoor habit space with our other black-handed spider monkey pair, MoMo and Chimal. Once the weather consistently reaches at least 60 degrees, guests can view both pairs on alternating days in the outdoor habit as well.

Fast Facts:

  • Black-handed spider monkeys are currently listed as Endangered in their natural range by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • They’re native to southern Mexico and Central America, living in the upper canopies of forests.
  • These monkeys have prehensile tails that act as a fifth limb — for climbing, grabbing items, and securely hanging from branches. Dangling from a tree with their long, slim limbs splayed, they resemble spiders dangling from a web.
  • The tail of a black-handed spider monkey is often longer than their body, growing 23-29 inches long, while their body is 15-27 inches long.
  • Here at MCZ, their diet includes greens, fruits, vegetables, and more, as well as regular enrichment-type foods. In the wild, they also eat seeds and insects.


On your next visit, stop by Primates of the World and say hello to Topaz!