Monday, January 17, 2011

Chimp Haven's Teresa Passes

One of Chimp Haven's original residents who gained nationwide fame four years ago with the surprise birth of her baby has died, officials announced Monday in a news release.

Teresa, 46, died Friday. She suffered from a degenerative orthopedic condition. She and Rita were the first to arrive at the forested sanctuary nearly six years ago. Both were used in Air Force and biomedical research programs.

The value of Teresa's participation in the research programs may never be publicly known, but she gained national fame Jan. 8, 2007, when she walked out of the forested habitat with a baby chimpanzee cradled in her arms. Then, at age 42, Teresa was considered too old to give birth.

But she defied the odds with the help of Conan, one of the males in Teresa's group, whose vasectomy failed. The baby was later named Tracy.

"Teresa was an excellent mother," Chimp Haven President Dr. Linda Brent said in the news release. "She protected her baby and kept her safe; yet, she knew when to give her freedom."

Although Teresa kept Tracy close, she allowed other members of her group to help with child care. Mason, 26, and Suzanna, 34, have been particularly close to Tracy. Their relationship with the 4-year-old brings comfort to the Chimp Haven staff, according to behaviorist Amy Fultz. "Having Suzanna and Mason look after Tracy could provide her with comfort now that her mother is gone. She already sleeps with Mason at night. We see the two of them curled up together."

Full story here.

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