The chimpanzee troop at Hamilton Zoo has welcomed its seventh member after just being introduced to their upgraded enclosure.
Mama chimp Sanda delivered the girl overnight on December 17, only 24 hours after moving to their new outdoor enclosure. The chimp troop's newest member is still without a name.
Zoo director Dr Baird Fleming says: "We were so over the moon with how wonderfully well the chimpanzees reacted to their new space. It's a really positive sign that Sanda felt so happy, healthy and safe in her new surroundings she was comfortable enough to deliver her baby."
The chimp troop had been off display since February last year, while their outdoor enclosure was upgraded. Visitors still need to wait to see the chimps and their latest addition, as priority is to give the troop time to get used to their new space and bond with the baby, says Fleming.
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"Animal welfare is always at the forefront of everything we do. The troop needs time together to bond in their new environment and it's crucial that the other chimpanzees identify and connect with the baby too."
The zoo will announce on its website and social media, when the chimp troop is ready to be visited by the public.
Visitor favourite – and now big sister – Chiku is also really excited about her new sibling. But curator of exotics Catherine Nichols said the troop had "jumped in" to keep her busy.
"Chiku is very inquisitive and has been hanging around mum on and off to get her attention, but big sister is giving her space to nurse. Grandma Lucy has been keeping an eye on Chiku and auntie Sally, uncle Lucifer and dad Luka have been amazing, playing with her and giving her lots of extra attention," Nichols says.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists chimpanzees as endangered on their Red List of Threatened Species.
Hamilton Zoo supports the Jane Goodall Foundation and its work with chimpanzees.
The foundation is dedicated to protecting chimpanzees and conserving critical habitats while strengthening surrounding communities and empowering the next generation of conservation leaders.