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Shiba cradles her new baby
Photo by Lisa Ridley
Shiba cradles her new baby

Taronga Zoo’s renowned chimpanzee group has welcomed a tiny new addition, with experienced mother, Shiba giving birth to a healthy baby over the weekend.

The new baby was spotted in the chimpanzee’s night dens by keepers on Saturday morning, cradled in mother Shiba’s arms.

“Shiba has shown her calmness and great experience since the birth, cradling and shielding the infant, so much so that keepers haven’t been able to confirm the baby’s sex yet,” said primate supervisor, Lou Grossfeldt.

“The youngster is quite vocal when not dozing in its mother’s arms and appears very healthy.”

A very experienced mother, Shiba is 33 years old and one of the most senior females in Taronga’s chimpanzee group.

The infant has a sister Sembe, and two brothers, Shabani and Samaki, already in the group. Keepers will soon choose a name to fit in with the group that reflects the baby’s nature.

Keen-eyed visitors may spot the baby’s head or hands and feet occasionally poking out from Shiba’s embrace. As days pass, there’ll be more opportunities to view the youngster.

“The birth is great news for our chimpanzee group, and adds to our conservation efforts that increasingly operate here and in the wild,” said Lou.

Chimpanzees are humans’ nearest relatives sharing over 98.5 % of the same DNA. Sadly they are increasingly endangered in the wild from habitat loss and the bushmeat and illegal pet trades.

Taronga has an ongoing partnership with the Jane Goodall Foundation’s Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Centre in the Congo, which helps chimpanzees rescued from poachers and the pet industry.

You too can help support chimpanzee conservation through simple actions such as recycling your old mobile phones and buying sustainably certified timber products at home.  More information: www.taronga.org.au  

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