Right to Name New Monkey Auctioned for Conservation

NEW YORK, New York, February 10, 2005 (ENS) - The Wildlife Conservation Society is auctioning off the right to name a species of monkey new to science, discovered last year in Bolivia. To raise money for conservation of the new species and its habitat, the society will permit the highest bidder to have the name of his or her choice permanently entered into all scientific publications, field guides, and other publications that mention the new species.

The online auction runs from February 24 to March 3, and will be hosted by Charity Folks www.charityfolks.com, an online auction venue for nonprofits that specializes in celebrity items. Bidders in Charity Folks auctions must have a credit card with at least $500 of available credit.

Based at the Bronx Zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) sponsors the work of scientists and conservationists around the world.

It was WCS conservationist Dr. Robert Wallace who first discovered the unidentified titi monkey during wildlife surveys at a location near Bolivia's Madidi National Park. Further observations at additional sites convinced Wallace that the Madidi titi monkeys deserved more research attention.


Dr. Robert Wallace in the field (Photo by Ian Kellett courtesy WCS)
After filming, photographing and describing the monkeys, Wallace and colleagues Humberto Gomez, Adam Felton and Annika Felton, submitted a manuscript proposing the monkeys as a species new to science. This manuscript has been accepted by taxonomic experts and is awaiting publication.

As the discoverer of the new species, Wallace has the right to name it. But he and his colleagues decided to hold an auction to sell the naming rights to raise funds to conserve the monkey's habitat.

All proceeds from the auction will go to the non-profit foundation FUNDESNAP, which will use the revenue to protect the species' habitat in Madidi.

The name titi monkey describes 30 different species, all of which are found in the Amazonian and Atlantic forests of South America. These primates live in small social groups, usually between two and six animals.

The currently unnamed, brown and orange monkeys were observed to pair up in the mornings and call back and forth to one another "while clutching each other in what resembles a human embrace," Wallace said.


A pair of the unnamed monkeys vocalizes in Madidi National Park (Photo by Robert Wallace courtesy WCS)
As with all other titi monkeys, Wallace explained, this species is monogamous, with pairs apparently together for life.

"The constant stress of territorial battles against neighboring pairs of titi monkeys, as well as the need to remain vigilant to the many predators in the tropical forest, means that these primates spend a lot of time bonding and are extremely tactile partners," the scientist said. "Male titi monkeys participate when it comes to parenthood, carrying infants almost the entire time until they become independent."

Wallace said the auction will raise money to protect the park from illegal settlements and unsustainable resource extraction.

"As a wildlife biologist, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to discover a large mammal species, and an extreme honor to name it," Wallace said.

"But it's far more important that the species habitat remains protected, which is why WCS has decided to work in partnership with Bolivian park authorities SERNAP and FUNDESNAP to auction its name to the highest bidder," he said.

"This opportunity is for someone who wants to leave behind a truly lasting legacy that they cared about conservation and wildlife," Wallace said.

"This is conservation at its most pragmatic," said WCS President and CEO Dr. Steven Sanderson. "The auction will give the public a chance to help Bolivia safeguard one of the world's crown jewels for wildlife, reminding us that the future of conservation is on everyone's shoulders."

Madidi National Park, established in 1995, encompasses lowland forests and alpine meadows surrounded by glaciers - in an area about the size of New Jersey.

Besides the new monkey, the park protects healthy populations of jaguars, giant river otters, over 1,000 bird species and many varieties of rare orchids and other unique plants.

The auction opens on February 24 and ends on March 3. For more information and to place a bid, visit www.charityfolks.com/monkey.

To learn more about Madidi National Park, visit www.wcs.org/madidimonkey.