Phoenix Zoo Announces Big Loss

Mantled Howler Monkey

Photo: Getty Images

The Phoenix Zoo has been mourning the loss of one of its most beloved family members.

On Thursday, the zoo posted on its official social media pages that their female black howler monkey, Olivia, had passed away.

The 26-year-old primate died due to complications with health and old age. However, her ending wasn’t necessarily out of the blue as for the past year and a half, Olivia had been monitored closely for her worsening conditions.

Alongside photographs of Olivia, the Phoenix Zoo uploaded a post on Facebook captioned with kind words in memory of the once vibrant spirit:

“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our female black howler monkey, Olivia. At 26 years old, Olivia well surpassed the median life expectancy of 17.8 years for her species and had been closely monitored for declining health and age-related issues.
A visitor and staff favorite, Olivia came to the Phoenix Zoo when she was just 6 months old in 1997. One of the original inhabitants of the Forest of Uco, Olivia lived with male howlers Russell and Bilbo before moving to her home, next to Monkey Village. The two male howlers spent a lot of time vying for Olivia's affections as she matured with Russell being the lucky mate for her only offspring, a male named Miio born in 2000 who she also outlived.
She was a monkey with many nicknames (most completely unrelated to her actual name), and she answered to all of them: Liver, Goose, Doodle, Potato, Tater Tot, etc. As a tenured resident of the Zoo, Olivia was cared for by many keeper, and it often seemed she preferred the company of people to that of other monkeys. She enjoyed people-watching from the front of her habitat, greeting almost everyone who stopped to visit, a trait that endeared her to many. It wasn't uncommon for Zoo staff who had never actually worked with her to stop by just to say hello. And while Olivia was easy to love, she didn't always love easily! Once someone crossed the line from adoring fan to primate keeper, Olivia made them put in the work. And we all did willingly, because once she approved of your presence, you had a friend for life.
Olivia loved natal plums and banana leaves, which our horticulture team brought her whenever they were available. She always had a way of getting whatever she wanted - even if it meant keepers rearranging their entire routines based on her whims. She loved hats and sunglasses, and she once stole a set of ear warmers from a keeper in the middle of winter and took it up to her box for a week before growing tired of them. She liked to look at herself in mirrors, and she would do nearly anything you asked for a peanut.
After her companion of 26 years, Bilbo, passed, Olivia readily accepted her new roommates, Maddie and Bennie (though she still seemed to prefer her keepers!). She had a tough spirit and stood her ground when she wanted to, but was content to lay down and be groomed by her new friends, whenever they were willing to do it. By the end of her time with them, the three girls regularly greeted each day with their distinct chorus, Olivia's part being the quietest and highest-pitched.
Her keepers are crushed to say goodbye, but love that she was adored by so many.”

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