North Carolina Zoo announces birth of chimpanzee

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(Diane Villa/North Carolina Zoo)

ASHEBORO, N.C. — There is a new addition to the chimpanzee troop at the North Carolina Zoo.

On Monday, a healthy baby was born to chimp Gerre, the zoo said in a news release. Both mother and baby are doing well and the baby started nursing quickly. The gender of the baby has not been determined yet.

“It is an important birth as there have only been two other successful chimp births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos in the past two years,” the release said. “The North Carolina Zoo is one of the most successful zoos for breeding chimps. Before Monday’s birth, three infants have been born at the Zoo since 2010: females Nori and Ebi and male Gus.”

The troop is very curious about the young baby, according to Jennifer Ireland, the zoo’s curator of mammals. The last birth at the zoo, Gus, was on May 14, 2014. The adult male chimpanzees in this troop are known for being gentle and playful with younger chimps.

Gerre, who is around 20 years old, is an experienced mother and very protective of her young, the zoo said.

“Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo for the new baby chimp,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Today is a cause for celebration at the North Carolina Zoo as well as a critical moment in the conservation world.”

“Every birth is special to us,” Zoo Director Pat Simmons said. “We are thrilled to have this new addition! We hope our guests see the baby as a symbol of how important it is to save chimpanzees in the wild.”

With the new baby, the Zoo’s troop now consists of 16 chimpanzees — 10 females — Gerre & baby (sex TBD), Amy, Ebi, Gari, Genie, Gigi, Maggie, Nori, Ruby and Tammy, and five males — Gus, Kendall, Jonathan, Lance and Sokoto. The zoo recently lost one of its oldest female chimps, Ruthie, 47, in December 2018.

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