This is not any new-born. With her unique ‘tuft’, this baby belongs to Alice, the Royal Anglian Way Troop long-standing matriarch.
Alice has not had a baby for the last four or five years and at 23 years of age, the prospect of her giving birth would be the equivalent of a woman having a child in her 60s, taking average life spans of female Barbary macaques in Gibraltar and women to be 30 and 80 respectively.
However perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised since studies suggest that whilst fertility does diminish with age, macaques and other non-human primates don’t go through a menopause as we know it, that is, the total cessation of reproductive ability, but rather continue to cycle until a much more advanced age.
This notion is supported by the Macaque Management Team and the Gib Veterinary Clinic.
We shall monitor Alice and the rearing of her last offspring with great interest in the months and years to come.
Brian Gomila is a primatologist who runs educational outings through Monkey Talk to help people better understand the Barbary macaques.