Complications at birth. A baby and his mother struggle for life. The baby is born but the mother deserts him.  Grandma has to step in and raise the new boy.

And we’re talking about a monkey!

People have a tendency to care deeply about animals, aware of their innocence, cuteness and playfulness. They seem so good-natured, always curious, and we cringe at any physical discomfort or emotional stress. Georgeanne Irvine’s Mosi Musa: A True Tale About a Baby Monkey Raised by His Grandma (San Diego Zoo Global Press/Blue Sneaker Press) takes us on a touching rollercoaster ride that has readers rooting hard for a little vervet monkey.

Mosi Musa is born at the San Diego Zoo following dangerous, life-threatening emergency surgery. While all signs prior to birth indicate that Louise, the mother, will be loving and nurturing, she wants no part of her baby. Surprisingly, she pushes little Mosi Musa away when the zoo staff attempts to bring them together. No one understands why.

It was a nerve-wracking delivery. Mosi Musa wasn’t breathing at first until a veterinary nurse massaged his chest. About twenty seconds later, he took his first breath. But now the monkey faces further challenges: He needs love as well as special care following his fragile birth.

The animal staff has an idea: Why not let Thelma, the baby’s grandmother, raise Mosi Musa? She could certainly provide the cuddling and protection but would need help as the tiny baby is still nursing. Thelma begins to take on a motherly role as Mosi Musa lays in his incubator for days. While in the incubator, the monkey makes the most of his situation by playing with toys and exploring in his outdoor pen. He is starting to grow stronger.

After moving into the zoo’s Africa exhibit, a special moment occurs when mother Louise comes back, climbs up next to Mosi in the trees and begins grooming him — an act, says Irvine, indicative of what monkeys do when they want to become friends.

The book, produced by the San Diego Zoo’s Global Press, is the fourth in a series of moving animal stories, following Ruuxa and Raina, Karen’s Heart and Fabulous Floyd. All have valuable lessons for children, told through Irvine’s simple narratives. Pictures help capture the tense and passionate moments of the animals interacting with each other as well as with the zoo staff.

Irvine tells a story of love, perseverance, innocence and acceptance that will touch the hearts of children and adults alike. This book teaches us about never giving up and working to overcome hardships. The book is also educational, weaving in many facts about vervet monkeys and how they live.

Mosi Musa is available for purchase now.


About Georgeanne Irvine

Georgeanne “George” Irvine has devoted 40 years of her colorful career to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where she is the director of corporate publishing. She is the author of two dozen children’s books about animals. Photographing and learning about animals in their native habitats are passions for George. Her worldwide adventures have taken her to many of the wildest places on Earth — from the jungles, mountains and forests of Asia and South America to the savannas of Africa as well as the Outback of Australia.