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Photo by Lisa Ridley
Taronga's new chimpanzee baby with mother, Shiba and big sister, Sembe

Working at Taronga Zoo teaches each and every one of us about life and how precious it is.

Several months ago the Primate Keepers were very sad to lose their oldest chimpanzee, the beautiful Lulu. But life does indeed come full circle, and not quite a year after the arrival of young Fumo, we are extremely excited to welcome to another baby chimpanzee, this time to three-time mother, Shiba.

The young male was born overnight on Friday and discovered by Keepers early on Saturday morning. Later that morning Shiba took her little bundle out into the exhibit for the very first time, confidently swinging from the ropes and up to the platforms on the climbing structures!

We held our breath as she scaled to the highest of heights, but we needn’t have worried. The grip of a young chimpanzee is instinctively extremely strong, and the first lesson it must learn is how to hang on tight!

Shiba knows what it takes to raise her young. She has a juvenile daughter, Sembe, and two adult male sons, Shabani and Samaki – also known as the ‘S’ brothers.

These two big, strong chimps have shown their softer side these past few days, staying very close to their mother, and monitoring the visits of the rest of the community, ensuring that mum and bub enjoy these first weeks together in relative peace and quiet.

Over the coming months it will be interesting to monitor the behaviour of Sembe, Shiba’s only daughter.

Sembe’s relationship with her mother is extremely close and now that Shiba’s attention is diverted, Sembe must learn to fend for herself, and socialise more with the rest of the community, if she is to successfully transition from clingy juvenile to independent adolescent.

 - Primate Keeper, Simon Hersee

 

CHIMP FACT #9

In the wild, a young chimpanzee is completely reliant on its mother for the first years of its life.

It will need nourishment, protection, warmth, and of course, transportation. As it becomes increasingly aware of its surroundings, the infant will begin the steep learning curve of life in a chimpanzee community.

Certain skills demonstrated by older chimps will be observed, practised, and eventually perfected, and mum will be there to correct any mistakes the youngster may make. Some skills, such as ‘termite fishing’, can take up to 10 years to perfect!

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