A baby mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) was born at the Bronx Zoo and is on exhibit at Congo Gorilla Forest.


The Bronx Zoo is one of only 26 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums with mandrills and there are fewer than 100 individuals in the AZA population. This youngster is the first mandrill born at the Bronx Zoo since 2013.


Mandrills are one of the largest monkey species and among the most colorful.  The dominance status of males can be determined by the relative brightness of their coloration – dominant males are brightly colored while subordinate males are paler. Females are smaller and less colorful, and normally breed with the most dominant males. The species has a gestation period of 6 to 7 months.


The baby is a female and was born to female, Sandy, and male, Nigel. Nigel came to the Bronx Zoo in 2016 to breed with the zoo’s females as part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program to maintain genetic diversity in zoo populations.


The Bronx Zoo’s troop is comprised of one adult male, several females, and their offspring.  The female nurses and cares for the baby, which was born July 3, while the male’s primary role is to protect all troop members.


The species is classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and their numbers continue to decline due to human activities including hunting for bushmeat and habitat loss. They are native to the evergreen rainforests of central West Africa, occurring in parts of Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.


The Bronx Zoo is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Congo Gorilla Forest opened at the Bronx Zoo in 1999.  The award-winning exhibit is representative of the rainforest habitats of Central Africa and was designed with conservation and education as a priority. Admission fees to the exhibit directly funds WCS field conservation programs in Africa.


The mandrill troop shares their exhibit with red river hogs.  Other species in Congo Gorilla Forest include western lowland gorillas, Wolf’s monkeys, okapis, and many other species of central African reptiles, birds, fish and mammals.


The story of the mandrill infant will be featured in the third season of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO, which will premiere in 2019.  The series, which is the first to go behind the scenes at the world-famous zoo, focuses on the powerful and compelling stories of animals and their keepers, and the zoo’s contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.


“We are really pleased to welcome Animal Planet back to the Bronx Zoo to film its third season of THE ZOO; they have been a great partner,” said Jim Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo and EVP of Zoos and Aquarium at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The story of the baby mandrill will be among many which highlight the important role of zoos and aquariums that visitors might not be aware of without seeing the show. We love hearing the response from viewers that after watching the series they have a greater understanding and a new-found appreciation of what zoos and aquariums do to conserve species in the wild and the great care we provide the animals at our parks. We have also heard from viewers how the series is even inspiring some to enter the zoo and aquarium profession. This candid look at how we go about caring for the animals is helping to give a true understanding of the importance of our work throughout AZA parks.”


Ratings for season two of THE ZOO grew more than 20 percent versus season one, and each episode averaged 1.25 million viewers. The series is one of Animal Planet’s highest rated programs, breaking into the network’s top three for the year to date.


About the Bronx Zoo: The Bronx Zoo, located on 265 acres of hardwood forest in Bronx, NY, opened on Nov. 8, 1899. It is world-renowned for its leadership in the areas of animal welfare, husbandry, veterinarian care, education, science and conservation. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is the flagship park of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) which manages the world’s largest network of urban wildlife parks including the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and New York Aquarium. Our curators and animal care staff work to save, propagate, and sustain populations of threatened and endangered species. We have educated and inspired more than 400 million visitors at our zoos and aquarium since our opening and host approximately 4 million guests at our parks each year – including about a half-million students annually. The Bronx Zoo is the largest youth employer in the borough of the Bronx, providing opportunity and helping to transform lives in one of the most under-served communities in the nation. The Bronx Zoo is the subject of THE ZOO, a docu-series aired world-wide on Animal Planet. Members of the media should contact mpulsinelli@wcs.org (718-220-5182) or mdixon@wcs.org (347-840-1242) for more information or with questions.