The face belongs to the National Zoo’s first surviving baby black howler monkey,who on Friday will turn 3 months old.
And that afternoon he’ll receive a pretty big gift: a name.
The zoo is asking the public to choose a name on its Facebook page. Voting ends at noon Friday,and the zoo will announce the winner that afternoon on Facebook.
Howler monkeys congregate in trees in South American rainforests and are the loudest animals in the Western hemisphere. They start and end the day with cries that can be heard up to three miles away.
Voters can choose one of four names: Loki,Orejas,Nando and Sumaq.
Loki is a Norse mythological god known for his trickery,and is the basis for the villain of “The Avengers” film. While not a super-villain,the baby can be a little mischievous,animal keeper Rebecca Smithson said.
“The baby,when he was younger,he stayed on mom and was pretty innocent. But as he’s started to climb off,he has gotten more mischievous,” Smithson said.
As of Wednesday,Loki is in the lead.
“It’s recognition,especially since the movie came out. It’s an easy name to say,it’s a fun name to say,” Royals said. “I think Orejas,I think not a lot of people know what that is.”
Or how to pronounce it. Royals said some people may wonder,“How does the ‘J’ work?”
The “J” in Orejas is pronounced like an “H” and is Spanish for “ears,” which fits the infant monkey,as baby black howler monkeys’ ears are more prominent when they’re young because their hair is shorter.
Nando,short for Fernando,means courageous,and Sumaq means beautiful in Quechua,the language used in South American countries where the black howler monkeys are natives.
The baby is Chula’s first child,Smithson said. At the zoo in Grand Rapids,Mich.,where Chula previously lived,she helped take care of other female howler monkeys’ babies.
“So we knew she’d be a good mom,” Smithson said. “She’s extremely protective.”
Chula isn’t getting a lot of rest though.
“He’s very active. Mom tends to look tired because he’s constantly moving,and she’s trying to keep track of him,” Smithson said. “It keeps her awake quite a bit.”
Chula also has to watch out for the baby’s dad,Pele. Male howler monkeys sometimes kill infants. The three are in the same enclosure.
Chula’s relationship with the baby is not unlike that of other parents and children,Royals said.
“Mom is having to watching him a little more because he is venturing off on his own more,and I am very familiar with that,” Royals said. “I have a 17-month-old,and she’s very mobile now,where just three months ago she was just barely crawling”
The zoo has let the public name other animals will likely do it again because it is a great way to connect with the public,Royals said.
“That’s what we’re always looking for is any way to engage the public in learning about the animals,and if it’s through a contest,that’s what we’ll use,” Royals said.
Reach reporter Chris Jessen at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.