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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Girl Power at Belfast Zoo!

colobus monkey

Zuri, a female colobus monkey

Several females have been welcomed to Belfast Zoo’s animal collection in the last months, as part of their commitment and participation in European breeding programmes.

Collaborative breeding programmes help zoos around the world to manage vulnerable and endangered species by providing a ‘safety net’ population.


Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said:

"Without the active work of zoos some species would simply no longer exist. The breeding programme was on hold due to COVID restrictions, and we are delighted to welcome new animals to our collection, as well as transfer some of our own to other zoos."

Zuri, a female colobus monkey, was born at Belfast Zoo on 20 December 2022. Baby colobus monkeys, born pure white, gradually change to their distinctive black and white colouration as they get older.

moloch gibbon

Odeya, a female moloch gibbon

Senior Keeper, Carolyn-Louise Gribben, said:

"Zulu is the proud dad with mum and auntie, Zola and Kimya, who are sisters. In this species, it is not always mum who carries her baby, dad plays an active role too! In the wild, mum looks for food and offers younger members of the group the chance to practice at caring for the baby. Belfast Zoo holds the studbook for this amazing species. We are delighted in ensuring survival of this species."

Odeya, a female moloch gibbon, arrived from Münchner Tierpark Hellabrunn (Munich Zoo), Germany, to Belfast Zoo in March of this year.

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, continued:

"Hilo our male gibbon is a firm favourite among our visitors, he is a real character! It’s great he will share his outdoor habitat with a female friend, and they are already enjoying "hanging out" together. Moloch gibbons spend most of their time in trees, swinging from branch to branch, and their habitat is designed to replicate this. They can leap as far as 30 metres in one jump!"

Cici, a female pancake tortoise

Cici, a female pancake tortoise

Cici, a female pancake tortoise born at Belfast Zoo two months ago, joins Petunia and Onion in their habitat. Pancake tortoises, critically endangered, get their name because their shell is thin, soft, flexible, and flat. Since they are so light, they are thought to be the fastest tortoises and they are expert climbers.

In May, Mia, a Northern Cheetah subspecies, arrived from Fota Wildlife Park in Cork. Mia has been settling in at her specially designed 'Cheetah Lookout' habitat and soaking up the sun on her platforms.

Mia, a Northern Cheetah subspecies

Mia, a Northern Cheetah subspecies

Carolyn-Louise Gribben, Senior Keeper, said:

"Mia is settling in well in her new home and visitors love her! Cheetahs are iconic for their black spotted coats and teardrop marks, and Mia is just beautiful. She’s been enjoying perching on her viewing platforms, which give her a great view of her enclosure and parts of the zoo.

"There are also flat areas where she can sprint along as cheetahs sleek, athletic build allows them to race across grasslands at speeds touching 70 miles (112km). We plan to have a male cheetah to arrive in the coming months, with hopes of little cubs making an appearance in the future."

Lastly, Emilia, a female Pudu, arrived from Chester Zoo in June. Southern pudu are found in the dense lowland forests of South Chile and south-west Argentina.

Emilia, a female Pudu

Emilia, a female Pudu

Pudu are one of the smallest members of the true deer family. In fact, adult pudus measure only 43 centimetres in height when fully grown! Emelia is a welcome addition, as this little deer is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, due to a combination of threats including habitat loss, predation, hunting and competition from other species. It is believed that there could be as few as 10,000 left in the wild.


Belfast Zoo is home to 110 different species, many of which are facing increasing risk of extinction in their natural habitat.

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said:

“We take part in over 60 breeding programmes which help to manage populations under threat. We hope the new arrivals educate and inspire our visitors about wildlife conservation. We hope to see some new babies very soon!”


Swing by to be in with a chance to spot our new females at the zoo! Belfast Zoo is open every day, 10am – 6pm with last admission at 4.30pm.

Admission can be booked online at


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