BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Zoo has a new family member!
29-year-old chimpanzee Bunny gave birth to a female chimpanzee on July 5.
Credit: Maryland Zoo
The Zoo’s animal staff said she had an uncomplicated labor and delivery, and Bunny and the baby have spent their first 10 days together bonding in a quiet, off-exhibit area.
“Bunny is very attentive and protective of her baby. She likes to hold the baby up and watch her move and often nuzzles her face,” said Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Bunny is also doing a great job of helping us by showing us the baby when her care team ask, which has allowed us to be able to observe her closely and make sure she looks good. The baby is nursing regularly and getting stronger every day.”
The Chimpanzee Forest team has been monitoring the pair closely to make sure all behaviors are normal between the infant and the mother because Bunny is mostly deaf- with slight hearing in one year.
Keepers said she is able to hear and feel the baby when it cries loudly.
“We want to be as hands-off as possible to allow mom and baby plenty of time to develop their relationship. Just like with human moms, there is a steep learning curve for both the baby and the mother in the first few days as they both adjust to this new way of life,” said Cantwell.
The little chimpanzee has little fluffy black hair covering most of her body and spends nearly all of her time cradled in Bunny’s arms or clinging closely to her back. Chimp babies usually weigh 2-3 pounds at birth.
“We are so excited to see Bunny flourish as a mom,” said Cantwell. “It’s great to watch an animal we care so much about experience this next step in her life. And, chimp babies are really quite adorable. We can’t wait to watch the baby grow up and achieve her own life milestones!”
Bunny is with a smaller group of chimps so she can focus on her baby and not have to worry about the social dynamics of chimp society, the Zoo said.
There are 13 chimpanzees in the Maryland Zoo’s troop including the newborn. The Zoo said for now, Bunny and her baby will stay behind the scenes so they can strengthen their bond and then later will be introduced to the troop.