Nikki the mandrill is officially a Guinness World Record holder! At 37, she is the oldest living mandrill in managed care. Nikki joined us from Portland six years ago and has made a profound impact on those who have been lucky enough to work with her since she arrived in Phoenix. 

Hear what Nikki’s keepers have to say about her here:

“Nikki teaches me patience. We live in Nikki’s world, she’ll take her time to do things, or she’ll do things very quickly, it’s all up to her. When I come into the building first thing in the morning, I go see Nikki and do a mandrill “smile” greet and she’ll smile back at me. She is the queen of smacking her lips with her tongue while she eats. Especially popcorn, which is one of her favorite enrichment foods. Whether its popcorn or honestly any other food items, I would watch her eat all day if I could.” – Tysen

“One of my favorite memories of working with Nikki is the first time that I got her to “smile” at me. Mandrills are unique in that they do what is called a “smile” greeting. It actually looks like they are smiling at you with all their teeth. They do this as a greeting to each other and sometimes with keepers they interact with. Some mandrills I have worked with give out these “smiles” freely and others, like Nikki, really make you work for it. When Nikki first arrived at the Zoo, she was very standoffish with keepers and extremely cautious about everything that was part of our routine. In an effort to make her feel more comfortable, I began giving her very exaggerated smiles throughout the day hoping that she would be more relaxed with me and MAYBE give me a “smile” back. Over time it seemed the best time to get her to look right at me was in the evening before I left for the day. Every day for what seemed like forever I would give her one last smile at the end of the day as I walked by and locked up the building. She would look at me as if to acknowledge that she saw but would not greet me back. Then one night she “smiled” back! I was so excited I almost teared up and couldn’t wait to do it again the next day to make sure it wasn’t a one-time thing. For a while she didn’t do it every night but then eventually it became a regular occurrence and she even started doing it at other times of the day. I worked hard for that first “smile” and every time I get one it makes my day.” – Danyelle

Fox 10 Phoenix came by to chat with Nikki’s keepers and Zoo guests: Watch the video here!