Nine-year-old chimp, Nina gives birth to healthy baby boy in the first live broadcast of a chimp birth.
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Among luscious greenery, nestled in a mountainous valley, nine-year-old chimpanzee Nina gave birth to a healthy male baby at 07h28 this morning South African time at the Jane Goodall Chimp Eden sanctuary near Nelspruit (Mbombela) in Mpumulanga.
David Devo Oosthuizen, Executive Director at The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) South Africa, said “Nina was very restless last night, so we thought the birth could be imminent. At 07h28 this morning she finally gave birth. The parturition process was over within minutes. Her instincts immediately kicked in after giving birth and she cleaned the baby boy. Nina and her son will now be in active observation.”
Here is a video of the birth:
What was remarkable about the birth, says Phillip Cronje, Sanctuary Manager Primate Care, was not only Nina’s tender age but the fact that she was the first chimp ever to be filmed giving birth from beginning to end. Ahead of the birth over 600 000 viewers had been monitoring her. “She captured the hearts and souls of people the world over,” he added.
Like humans, female chimpanzees are pregnant for about eight and a half to nine months and their babies are born facing backwards. Usually female chimps are fully-grown and able to reproduce at 12-13 years old.
Although Chimp Eden has a strict no-breeding policy, as it is committed to the rescue and care of chimpanzees in need of refuge and does not encourage the breeding of chimps in captivity, Nina fell pregnant due to a rare, but not unheard of, case of failed birth control.
Nina, who hails from Sudan, arrived at Chimp Eden after being tragically robbed of a normal childhood in the wild with her chimpanzee family. In April 2007 she and four other infants, Thomas, Charlie, Dinka and Zee, were confiscated from bushmeat hunters by local authorities in South Sudan and taken to a zoo in the town of Wau. From there, they were taken to a Jane Goodall Institute safe house located in Rumbek Sudan and quarantined.
They were finally brought to Chimp Eden, a chimpanzee rehabilitation facility placed on the 1,000 hectare Umhloti Nature Reserve 15 kilometres outside of Nelspruit. Thomas, the chimp who is thought to have impregnated Nina, was kept by a CITES officer in Sudan before he was handed over to the Jane Goodall Institute.
“The chimps that are brought to the sanctuary have invariably been traumatised,” observes Oosthuizen. Nina herself was torn from her family by the poachers and had no experience of infants. At this stage it remains to be seen whether she will accept her baby or whether the staff at Chimp Eden will have to hand rear the little one. In either case, it is important for us to consider the plight of these wonderful endangered creatures, which occur naturally in equatorial Africa. They are under severe threat and are in dire need of protection.”
Chimp Eden was opened in 2006 and is the first sanctuary of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa. The sanctuary itself is also home to an array of local African wildlife but its primary purpose is to aid and rehabilitate rescued chimps, and teach them how to fall into natural social patterns with their fellow primates.
Chimps occur naturally in 22 African countries, from the west coast of the continent to as far east as Tanzania. They are an endangered species and are now found in numbers in only a few countries including Gabon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon.
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