Monday, July 21, 2008

Chimp Born At Knoxville Zoo

george chimp babyKnoxville Zoo chimpanzee Daisy has given birth to a boy, the first chimp born at the park in two decades.

The baby was born Friday night indoors at the apes' Chimp Ridge habitat. He has been named George.

Both mother and baby are doing well, Knoxville Zoo Executive Director Jim Vlna said this morning.

Daisy has been very protective of her newborn, so much so that Vlna said zookeepers haven't yet gotten very close to the baby.

The zoo female chimpanzees Debbie and Julie are in the same indoor area as Daisy and her son and "are kind of protecting mom and baby - and protecting them from the keepers as well," Vlna said.

Although it's uncertain exactly when Daisy became pregnant the chimp's birth was a few weeks earlier than was expected, Vlna said.

There's no timeline for when zoo visitors will be able to see young George. That will all depend on his mother and her comfort level, Vlna said. Baby chimps are nursed and cared for by their mothers and can remain with them for several years.

Daisy, 32 came to the zoo in 2006 from the Little Rock (Ark.) Zoo; the baby's father, Jimbo, arrived that year from the Cleveland, Ohio, Zoo.

Both Daisy and Jimbo came to Knoxville as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. That plan determines where zoo chimps live and which ones reproduce; it recommended that Daisy and Jimbo become parents.

Daisy is an experienced, if sometimes awkward mother. This was her third pregnancy; her other children were born at other zoos.

The baby's birth brings the total of chimpanzees at the zoo to nine.


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