Four critically endangered monkeys have found a new home.

Keepers at Drusillas Zoo Park in Alfriston were thrilled to welcome the troop of yellow-breasted capuchin monkeys from Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands.

Also known as golden-bellied capuchins, the species is among the most threatened primate in the world with fewer than 3,000 remaining in the wild. They are classed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Keepers said the monkeys are settling in brilliantly.

It is a species-first for the zoo and an important step in the conservation of the primates.

One of the capuchinsOne of the capuchins (Image: Drusillas)

The four males, nine-year-olds Doyle and Chops, six-year-old Deet and five-year-old Clint, all from the same family group, have already won the hearts of the team at Drusillas and are delighting visitors with their many facial expressions, inquisitive natures and  individual personalities, which are becoming more prominent each day.

Zoo manager Mark Kenward said: “Although the boys were from the same family group, moving to a new home created a new dynamic for them, so in the first few days we observed them trying to establish a hierarchy. Deet made the first play to be the ‘boss’ attempting to exhibit dominant behaviours but was very quickly overruled by the more confident and naturally authoritative Doyle who has settled into the leadership role.

“Clint is definitely Doyle’s right-hand man, the two of them are quite similar in nature and tend to pair together often. Chops is a real sweetheart and will do anything to avoid conflict, he doesn’t test any boundaries and just wants to be everyone’s friend.

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“So actually, Deet has ended up bottom of the pack despite initial enthusiasm, but we are also observing the whole group coming together at times to groom and rest together, so no one is being left out.

“Even after my three decades of zookeeping, it’s still an exciting moment to have the opportunity to work with a new species and the arrival of these boys also brings a huge sense of pride knowing that we are contributing to the collaborative conservation efforts of zoos around the world.”

Critically endangered species within zoos, such as capuchins, are carefully managed and are often part of European breeding programmes which aim to ensure not only the future survival of threatened species but also their future genetic strength and diversity so they can thrive for generations.

The monkeys have settled in wellThe monkeys have settled in well (Image: Drusillas)

 “We are sometimes asked when a threatened species arrives why we don’t have breeding pairs and why we aren’t trying to breed straight away,” said Mark.

“Zoos will often begin with an all-male group of a new species, to learn about them and develop a successful animal care programme first. Just because a species is threatened doesn’t mean zoos will breed as much as possible – we all take a responsible approach to breeding, with breeding approval needing to be granted and the right pairing of bloodlines found.

“We of course would hope to be part of the breeding programme in the future but even if that doesn’t happen these boys will play a valuable role in educating our visitors about conservation and the threats primates face in the wild.”

Native to the east coast of Brazil, the yellow-breasted capuchin monkey, also known as the buffy headed capuchin and golden bellied capuchin, is one of the most threatened of the Atlantic rainforest and neotropical primates due to the threats it faces from deforestation and the subsequent genetic inbreeding that comes as a result of habitat fragmentation.

As part of its commitment to increasing conservation efforts, Drusillas recently launched new charity foundation Drusillas Conservation in Action which aims to finance conservation and research activities, establish and build grant programmes and build a new culture of conservation.