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The Oklahoma City Zoo is known nationally for their capacity to foster infant Chimpanzees, and now there is a new member to their troop. Seven-month-old Ruben arrived on July 30, after being hand-raised at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Ruben's mother, Rukiya, died just 24 hours after giving birth during a medical proceedure. It was a rough start for baby Ruben both to lose his mom.  After being treated roughly by his biological dad and not be accepted by that zoo's surrogate mom, it was apparent: Ruben needed a new home.

Those who had given him round-the-clock care at Lowry Park Zoo accompanied Ruben when it came time to move, and stayed to monitor his progress during the first 72 hours of transition. And the effort has been a success! Just weeks later, Ruben is blending well and being accepted by his new chimp family. Starting with Kito, his surrogate mom, the baby has gradually been introduced to Mwami, the dominant male, and three others in the group.

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Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo

Our zoo has had two successful Chimpanzee surrogate situations, and we are gaining a good reputation among accredited zoos for it," said Laura Bottaro, Oklahoma City Zoo Mammal Curator. The first occurred in 2008, the second in 2011.

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The zoo plans to continue it's surrogacy efforts as needed locally and abroad as part fo the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, a cooperative consevation and breeding program for species at risk of extinction. "It's rewarding when we can create a family for these endangered and at-risk animals," said Robin Newby, Oklahoma City Zoo's Great Escape Supervisor.

With all introduction processes, the animals dictate by their behavior when they are ready to meet new family members. While Ruben conitnues to adapt, the zoo prepares to introduce him to the public very soon. Updates on Rubens progress and debut dates will be posted online at OKZoo's website, and their Twitter and Facebook pages.