Mandrill Monkey Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

A new Mandrill Monkey is capturing hearts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This new baby will remind Disney fans of The Lion King. Everyone else will just think she is one of the cutest little ones ever!

This new baby girl is named Saffron and weighs less than three pounds. She could almost fit in the palm of someone’s hand. However, she won’t always be this small. Mandrills are actually one of the largest species of monkeys in the world. Saffron could grow up to 25 pounds in the next few years. For now, though, Saffron is holding tight to her mother Hazel and is nursing in the treetops in their habitat on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

In mandrill social structures, it is the mother that take on most parental duties. Hazel has been a doting mother and been nurturing Saffron since she was born on July 24. Much like a human baby is soothed by rocking back and forth, Hazel will often groom Saffron to comfort her. Their bond is very close and even Saffron’s sister Ivy has not been able to hold her yet.

*Mom Hazel (right) with her daughters Ivy (left) and Saffron (right).

Disney shared the following information about mandrills:

Like Rafiki, “The Lion King” character who was based on this species, mandrills are well known for their vibrant colors, including brilliant shades of blue, red and pink on their faces and yellow manes. Their colorations and patterns are unique, and no two strands of hair are the same. Similar to her namesake, Saffron will develop her unique and bright coloration once she fully matures in three to four years.

Mandrills are just as colorful on their back side, too, which helps the horde – or family group – follow each other as they travel through the dense forests of Africa.

With only about 4,000 mandrills remaining in the wilds of Africa, this new addition is great news for this vulnerable species. Saffron’s birth is an example of how we work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to help ensure the responsible breeding of endangered species in managed care to create healthy and genetically diverse populations of animals for years to come.

But that isn’t the only way we’re working to help this vulnerable species. Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment collaborated with Durham University and the Jane Goodall Institute to help rescued and rehabilitated mandrills return to their native habitats in Republic of the Congo. Through the measuring of hormone levels, our science team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom were able to verify these rehabilitated mandrills were not only thriving after being re-released but also extending the size of the family troop with the addition of two new babies.

For more updates on mandrills, Hazel, Saffron and all the animals in our care, follow our amazing team on Facebook and Instagram!

What do you think of Saffron? Have you seen the mandrill monkeys at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Kilimanjaro Safaris? What is your favorite animal found on the safaris? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!