Three-year-old Calabaza is said to be very curious about his new digs.

Three-year-old Calabaza is said to be very curious about his new digs. (Courtesy photo)

The Santa Barbara Zoo is the new home to Penelope and Calabaza, two white-faced saki monkeys. Calabaza, who is s three years old, came to the Santa Barbara Zoo from Zoo Miami, where he lived with his parents and one-year-old sister. Penelope is two years old and came from Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.

The two monkeys were matched by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and have a breeding recommendation.

The zookeepers are getting to know Penelope and Calabaza, and are helping them to comfortably adjust to their new home.

Two-year-old Penelope is a little shy but is getting used to her new home.

Two-year-old Penelope is a little shy but is getting used to her new home. (Courtesy photo)

“Penelope has settled in well, and while she’s still a bit shy, she has been opening up and starting to show her personality more and more,” said Kristen Wieners, zoological manager and training facilitator at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

“Calabaza is very curious about everything and anything in his surroundings, and is also quite the talker when he gets excited! We are in the process of introducing the two to each other, and so far things are going well,” she said.

Penelope and Calabaza are the first two of their kind at the Santa Barbara Zoo. White-faced sakis are named for the male’s appearance, but the males and females look very different. The males are recognizable with all black hair and distinctive white faces, while the females and their young have brownish-gray salt-and-pepper hair.

White-faced sakis are known for their loud calls that monogamous pairs of males and females sing together to establish their territory. Their song helps seal their bonds of courtship as well as defend their turf.

Penelope and Calabaza can be found in the primate exhibit (near the penguins) with the golden lion tamarins, an endangered species of monkey also native to South American rainforests, specifically in Brazil.

White-faced sakis are small tree-dwelling primates from South America and are named for the male’s appearance. Males have black hair and white faces, while females and young have brownish-gray hair with bright white to pale red stripes extending from each eye to the corners of the mouth.

Sakis are capable of leaping as far as 30 feet between tree branches. These active monkeys live in the treetops of the South American rainforests. They might venture on the ground to forage for fruit, but spend most of their time in the trees, where they also sleep.

White-faced sakis are omnivores that feed primarily on fruit, nuts, seeds, and insects.

White-faced saki populations face various human-related threats, including hunting, pet trade, and habitat destruction. The Santa Barbara Zoo participates in the white-faced saki Species Survival Plan, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the AZA.

The zoo is temporarily closed but the community can visit its website as well as their social media channels Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To consider making a donation to the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Emergency Operations Fund, click here.