Twycross Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of an extremely important baby Bonobo! In the early hours of Friday 6th January 2012, Maringa gave birth to a baby girl weighing in at a very healthy 1.44 kilograms after an eight and a half month pregnancy.
Charlotte Macdonald, Living Collection Curator, said: "When keepers arrived at the enclosure to find Maringa had given birth, they noticed the baby was strong and alert but not actually on mum. She was being kept warm and safe by another female Bonobo within the group."
"Maringa has had difficulty raising her young in the past therefore we have been planning for this birth in conjunction with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) since last summer. Donna Smithson, one of our Bonobo keepers, visited Frankfurt Zoo last year to observe how they trained one of their female bonobos to be a foster mum, in the event that Maringa showed no interest in the newborn." Charlotte said.
Diatou, the newborn's auntie, has been specifically chosen to become the baby's foster mum. Keepers have been training Diatou in the hope that she will hold the baby and look after the baby as the mother would do.
Charlotte added: "Keepers plan to care for the baby until she is a little bit older and not reliant on two-hourly feeds. When the newborn is returned to the group, Diatou will become the mother in all aspects but feeding - Diatou is being trained to bring the baby to the mesh of the enclosure in order for keepers to feed the baby.
"Although an anxious time for both keepers and staff at Twycross, following the months of preparation we have put into this birth we are very hopeful the introduction of the baby into the bonobo group will go smoothly."
The new arrival has been living behind the scenes within the bonobo enclosure since her birth and will remain off-show until she is ready to join the group. This arrangement was made to ensure the infant becomes familiar with the smells and the vocalisations of other bonobos. Her father, Kakowet, and soon-to-be foster mum, Diatou, have shown a great deal of interest in the baby girl and will sit and watch her for long periods of time. Maringa is also doing very well and suffered no complications from the birth.