A chimpanzee was born at Wellington Zoo early on 22 October, Husbandry Manager, Suzette Nicholson announced today.
‘Our chimpanzee keeper Cassandra Butler came in to work on Monday morning and found that Sally had given birth at around 6am, a week early than expected. Both mother and baby appear to be doing well.’
‘Sally and the baby have been in their indoor house with the rest of the troop for the last couple of days, so they can all meet and get acquainted with the new arrival.’
‘The other chimps are interested in the baby, particularly Alexis our youngest chimp, but Sally is proving to be a protective mother. She will let them get near to the baby but she won’t let them touch it.’
‘We’re unsure of the baby’s sex at this stage, but we think it’s a girl. Our chimpanzees are part of an international breeding programme, and a baby girl would be important for the region. Sally has had boys in the past.’
‘We believe that the dad is Sam, our biggest male, but we will be doing DNA testing on the baby to make sure. This baby brings the number of chimpanzees in our troop to 13.’
‘The baby is tiny, as you’d expect of any baby that is a couple of days old. They are totally dependent on their mother for around the first four months of their lives. Infant chimpanzees tend to cling to mum for at least the first year,” said Suzette.
Chimpanzees are endangered and in the wild their population continues to fall. The main threats to chimps in the wild are destruction of their natural habitats due to logging and hunting of chimpanzees for bush meat.