World, meet Obu.
The name of the first newborn at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s new snow monkey exhibit was announced Friday after roughly 2,100 people voted in an online poll. Osaka was the name that came in second in the online poll with 21 percent of the vote. Okuchi followed at 19 percent, Otsu at 16 percent and Obihiro at 6 percent.
So far, the little guy seems to be enjoying his surroundings and sticking close to mom Ono, Lincoln Park Zoo General Curator David Bernier said.
"He’s doing great. He’s growing," Bernier said. "We can tell he’s gotten a little bit bigger. Mom has been very protective of this guy. He tries to get out on his own, but mom scoops him up and carries him away."
Obu joins eight other snow monkeys at the zoo’s Regenstein Macaque Forest, which opened in April and features a hot spring and large climbing trees. In warmer weather, the water features can be cooled, allowing the monkeys to take a dip during Chicago’s hot summer days.
The monkeys are on public display daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and repeat visitors will have a lot to see over the next few weeks, according to Bernier.
"He’s changing rapidly, so as people come out one week to another they might see a whole different animal as he gets a little bit bolder with a little bit more freedom," he said.
The snow monkeys, also known as Japanese Macaques, are not endangered in their native habitat but they are under a North American Species Survival Plan. This group will help ensure the sustainability of the species in zoos here, Bernier said.
The animals were brought to the Lincoln Park Zoo last fall, and the new birth is an encouraging sign that they’re already comfortable in their new home, said Bernier.
Zoo officials hope the group will eventually grow to 20 or so snow monkeys over the next few years.
Like the other snow monkeys in the group, Obu is named after a city in the species’ native habitat in Japan, according to the zoo’s website.