Zoo welcomes baby chimp

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Mother Sanda with the chimpanzee troops newest addition.  Photo / Tara Sutherland
Mother Sanda with the chimpanzee troops newest addition. Photo / Tara Sutherland

One of Hamilton Zoo's most anticipated arrivals has occurred, with the birth of a baby chimpanzee.

Adult female chimpanzee Sanda gave birth to a daughter on Monday shortly after 9pm.

Sanda's labour and the baby chimpanzee's birth were captured on video camera, and footage shows Luka -- the baby chimpanzee's father -- in attendance as the child is born.

Catherine Nichols, Hamilton Zoo's acting curator, says Luka's presence at the birth signals he's a "doting dad", and continues behaviour he displayed while Sanda was pregnant.

"Luka's behaviour is very encouraging for us -- he will be vital to the baby's upbringing and acceptance into the troop," she said.

Mrs Nichols says keeping the troop together is also crucial to the baby chimp's assimilation.

"We want the other chimpanzees in the troop to identify and connect with the new arrival."

Zoo staff have already observed the other chimpanzees inspecting the new baby from a distance, but have not pushed the maternal boundaries and given Sanda some space.

"It's all looking positive so far," she said.

Sanda's post-birth behaviour is similar to a human mother: she is likely to stay out of sight in the chimp house for a week or so until she is comfortable, so zoo visitors will need to be patient before they get a glimpse of the new baby.

The new baby takes the number of chimpanzees at Hamilton Zoo to six, and she joins her parents Sanda and Luka, plus the other adults Lucy, Lucifer and Sally.

Chimpanzees are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's list of endangered species.

- Hamilton News

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