Utamu (pronounced oo-TAH-moo), an 18-year-old chimpanzee at the Saint Louis Zoo, gave birth to a yet-to-be-named female baby around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, at Jungle of the Apes.
“We are all very happy to have a new baby in the troop and it is so great to see Utamu become a mother,” said Heidi Hellmuth, Curator of Primates, Saint Louis Zoo.
The baby appears to be healthy and is clinging to mom well, according to the Zoo’s primate care team and veterinarians. The team will watch the mother and infant closely during the coming days and weeks, monitoring for nursing and observing the behavior of Utamu and the baby.
“We are hopeful that everything will continue to go well for both mom and baby. The next couple of months are critical,” said Helen Boostrom, Zoological Manager of Primates, Saint Louis Zoo. “Our highly skilled, experienced primate care team has built strong, trusting relationships with the chimpanzees, which are integral to providing the high level of care and training involved in preparing Utamu for birth and rearing her infant.”
Utamu and her baby will stay in a private maternity area for some time to allow them to continue to strengthen their bond. A public debut date is not known at this time. Zoo guests may see other members of the chimpanzee troop in the outdoor Donn and Marilyn Lipton Fragile Forest habitats, weather permitting.
The birth was the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, a scientific program to manage a genetically healthy chimpanzee population for this critically endangered species.