Animal Tales

There's No Place Like Home

There is a common saying: “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it wasn’t meant to be.” Whether you believe that or not, we love that spider monkey HueHue has come back to Milwaukee after spending the last eight years in Louisiana. He lived at the Milwaukee County Zoo from 2000 to 2010. He and two other spider monkeys from Milwaukee went south to the Audubon Zoo. He came back because that zoo wanted to start breeding spider monkeys, and since HueHue was vasectomized they needed to find him a new home. The Species Survival Plan® (SSP) coordinator thought HueHue would have an advantage coming back to Milwaukee because he was familiar with the surroundings. It was also good timing since female spider monkey Myrtle has been alone for about two years and really needs a companion.

Spider Monkey

It’s hard to know if HueHue recognized his old home. “We gave him the run of a few areas by himself so he could get re-familiarized with the doors and what the room looks like,” says keeper Mark Scheuber. Once HueHue saw the lay of the land it was time to meet Myrtle. They were able to see each other between windows and vocalized back and forth. When it came time to go into the same holding area Scheuber says it couldn’t have gone better. “Even if the spider monkeys are showing nonthreatening gestures and vocalizations, there is the possibility a serious injury could happen due to their sharp canines. But thankfully within 10 minutes they were hugging and within 30 minutes they were grooming.”

The Zoo now has two groups of spider monkeys that will rotate time in the exhibit. Chimal and MoMo are the second group you may see. The last time HueHue was here, there were problems between him and Chimal. The two are too close in age and were trying to exert dominance over each other. It was a dangerous situation so they were separated. HueHue will be easily recognizable next to Myrtle. She appears very grey, and he has red and orange fur on most of his head and back. Be sure to give him a nice welcome home the next time you visit the Zoo.

This article appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Wild Things