Squirrel monkeys make playful debut at Long Island Game Farm


Three squirrel monkeys — named Leo, Gilbert, and Bonnie — have made their debut at the Long Island Game Farm.

Leo and Gilbert were born at Animal Adventure Park in upstate Harpursville,, and were acquired by the Game Farm in October. They spent the winter growing up indoors at the farm, but only visitors on VIP tours got a chance to see them.

Now, everyone gets to see them play and interact out in Manorville.

“Bonnie, who is about 6 years old, came from Animal Adventure Park as well,” said Melinda Novak, one of the owners of Long Island Game Farm. “However, she faced challenges fitting in with the other monkeys in her troupe and ultimately got kicked out due to bullying.

“Bonnie arrived in our care displaying shyness,” she continued. “She had a couple of physical issues
from being bullied. She is now thriving and is in good health.

“She’s a little gem! Bonnie is now like a mother figure to Leo and Gilbert.”

Novak said the squirrel monkeys were a perfect fit for the family-owned wildlife park and children’s zoo, in business since 1970, since they’re very active and provide entertainment for visitors throughout the day.

As the weather warmed up, Leo and Gilbert were taken outside. Melinda’s daughter Chela works at the game farm as a zookeeper She describes them as playful toddlers who love swinging in their enclosure’s hammocks.

The monkeys are named after characters from Chela’s favorite movie, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”

Found widely in South and Central America, their diet primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, and specially-made monkey biscuits filled with nutrients. Grapes and cucumbers are their favorite treats.

Wildlife photographers Lori and Steve Biegler shot the photos above and below.

If you go

Long Island Game Farm is located at 489 Chapman Blvd. in Manorville. The phone number is 631-878-6644, if you have any questions. Visit the website at longislandgamefarm.com for updated hours, pricing and packages. Children under 3 are free.

The new squirrel monkeys enclosure at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville. (Starr Fuentes)