Longleat’s newest arrivals enjoyed some early Halloween treats in the shape of carved pumpkins this week.

Colobus monkey eyes pumpkin at Longleat

The seven-strong colony of colobus monkeys have taken up residence on an island in the middle of a lake and, to welcome them to their new home, keepers laid on a surprise treat in the shape of the edible gourds.

Originally from East Africa, the black and white old world monkeys’ diet is exclusively herbivorous; consisting of a mix of fruit, berries, leaves and seeds.

Colobus monkeys with pumpkin at Longleat

“We knew they liked squashes and gourds and thought pumpkins would make the perfect autumnal housewarming gift,” said keeper Georgina Barnes.

“One of the team carved them into appropriately-spooky looking Halloween faces but it didn’t deter the monkeys who actually seemed to be even more interested in them and finding out what was inside,” she added.

The seven are all juvenile males under three years old and came from three separate collections in Ireland and France.

Colobus monkey inspects pumpkin at Longleat

“They are all settling in well on the island, although it’s still a bit strange for us as it was home to our much-missed male gorilla Nico”, added Lauren.

The name colobus originates from the Greek word for mutilated and refers to the fact that the monkeys do not have any thumbs.

It’s believed this is an evolutionary adaptation which enables the monkeys, to move more easily through the trees.

Capable of leaping up to 10 metres, the lack of thumbs allows their hands to act more like hooks grabbing onto branches as they travel at speeds of up to 30mph.

Colobus monkeys with Halloween treat at Longleat

Eastern black and white colobus are increasingly under threat in the wild from a loss of habitat, hunting for their skin and the bush meat trade.

Individuals in zoological collections live for 30 years or more. In the wild their natural predators include eagles, leopards and even chimpanzees.

Issued by Longleat. For more information and to arrange interviews and filming opportunities please contact Ellie Dewdney or Steve Mytton on 01985 845415.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.