Endangered chimpanzee at OKC Zoo is expecting
The baby chimpanzee is expected to be born in Fall of 2022
The Oklahoma City (OKC) Zoo and Botanical Garden has publicized that its 14-year-old female chimpanzee, Nia, is pregnant with her baby anticipated to be born in the fall of 2022. This will mark Nia’s second offspring.
“Any birth is exciting at the Zoo, but one for an endangered species is significant and thrilling for us,” expressed Pace Frank, the OKC Zoo’s assistant curator of primates, in an organizational release.1
“The Zoo is committed to the conservation of chimpanzees. In partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and their Species Survival Plan for chimpanzees, we continue to positively impact their population while raising awareness for the protection of their habitat.”
In 2020, Nia came to the OKC Zoo from the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas on a recommendation with the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) for chimpanzees. At the time of her arrival, she was about 8 months pregnant with her first offspring, but following the baby’s birth, Nia did not demonstrate the proper maternal behaviors towards the infant.1
Thus, the Zoo’s primate care team consulted with the veterinary team and took direction from the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP to remove and hand-rear the infant, bringing her to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an AZA-member zoo with a successful background of introducing infant chimps to foster mothers. The infant named Maisie continues to develop and prosper at this zoo.
To prepare for Nia’s upcoming birth, primate caretakers are training with her to voluntarily engage in ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s health. Though the caretakers have hopes for Nia to present appropriate maternal behavior, they are training Kito as well, an adult female chimpanzee in the troop, to prepare to be a surrogate if needed.
According to the release,1 Nia was matched with 2 of the zoo’s male chimps, Mwami, 34, and Ruben, 10, per a breeding recommendation through the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP. The baby’s father is currently unknown and will be identified with a blood test. Nia is healthy and her pregnancy is progressing well as she continues to be closely monitored.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the chimpanzee is currently listed as endangered and with decreasing populations, they are at risk because of deforestation, hunting, and illegal pet trade. The OKC Zoo is helping support the chimpanzee populations by partaking in the AZA’s Chimpanzee SSP.
The OKC Zoo is home to 6 chimpanzees including females Cindy, 54; Kito, 35; Kirsty, 21; and Nia along with males Mwami and Ruben.
OKC Zoo’s endangered chimpanzee, Nia, is pregnant. News release. Oklahoma City Zoo. May 9, 2022. Accessed May 11, 2022. https://www.visitokc.com/articles/post/okc-zoos-endangered-chimpanzee-nia-is-pregnant