LA Zoo Welcomes New Chimpanzee Baby, First in 13 Years

The 10-week-old, still-unnamed baby was introduced to the public Friday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A chimpanzee baby, born March 6 to mother Gracie, became available for public viewing at the Los Angeles Zoo on May 18, 2012. She's the first chimp baby to arrive at the zoo since 1999. (Published Friday, May 18, 2012)

    The Los Angeles Zoo introduced its first chimpanzee baby in 13 years Friday.

    Born March 6, the new baby went on display to the public for the first time at 10:30. Her mother, Gracie, has been very careful with the baby, zoo officials said.

    "They are very, very gentle with their babies. Gracie, our new mom, is a fantastic mother, and held on to the baby for about six weeks before she was willing to let anyone have it," said animal keeper Kate Gilmore, a member of the Zoo's Great Ape team.

    Gilmore said Gracie has begun to let two other females handle the still-unnamed baby.

    "Any time the baby makes any kind of squeaking noise, she goes to check it out an dnormally takes the baby back," Gilmore said. "Like a lot of new moms, she's kind of happy once in a while to pass it off to get a little break."

    The Los Angeles Zoo, in Griffith Park, is home to 15 chimpanzee, one the nation's largest troops.

    The zoo is only allowed to let its troop produce babies under the guidelines of the Chimpanzee Species Survival Program, which aims to maintain genetic diversity and a healthy population of the ape species, Gilmore said.

    The zoo keeps female chimps on birth control to prevent unintended babies, Gilmore said. But permission was granted to breed a new male named Ben. Another of the zoo's female chimps is expecting a baby of Ben's, and two more of his babies are likely to be born next year, she said.

    Gracie's new baby comes as the zoo is welcoming youngsters of other species as well.

    Gilmore said May is a good time to visit to see the newborns, including three bighorn sheep lambs and three giant otter pups.

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