OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new baby chimp is due this fall, as the The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden proudly announced that mom, Nia, is pregnant.
As for the father, that is a mystery right now, as Nia, 14, was paired with two male chimps, Mwami, 34, and Ruben, 10. The father will later be determined through a blood test.
This is Nia’s second baby, though she unfortunately did not bond with her first baby, nor show appropriate maternal behavior. Zoo staff made the decision to hand-rear the baby chimp, which was later sent to Maryland, where she received a surrogate chimpanzee mom. The Zoo named her Maisie and she continues to thrive in her troop.
In case Nia, again, does not show appropriate maternal behavior, OKC Zoo primate caretakers are preparing another female, Kito, for the role of a surrogate. Kito recently served as a surrogate to another young chimp, Rueben.
“Any birth is exciting at the Zoo, but one for an endangered species is significant and thrilling for us,” said Pace Frank, the OKC Zoo’s assistant curator of primates. “The Zoo is committed to the conservation of chimpanzees. In partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and their Species Survival Plan for chimpanzees, we continue to positively impact their population while raising awareness for the protection of their habitat.”
Nia will continue to be monitored with ultrasounds, and after an eight-month gestation period, she is expected to deliver this fall.
Chimpanzees are native to Central and West Africa, but their populations are declining due to deforestation, hunting, and illegal pet trade. They are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.