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Maryland Zoo expecting two new chimpanzee babies

Bunny 1 nnWith a little luck, local families will get to welcome two new baby chimpanzees this spring. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore recently announced that Joice and Bunny, two of its female chimpanzees, are pregnant.

“We are cautiously optimistic about having two successful chimpanzee births this year,” stated Mike McClure, general curator at The Maryland Zoo. “Joice and Bunny have been under constant supervision and care, as are all the chimps, but with special attention being paid to their pregnancies. Both are healthy.”


The Maryland Zoo’s chimpanzees


Joice, 40, is the oldest chimp in the troop. She is also its matriarch, aunt to Carole and mother to both Renee, age 19, and Jambo, 6. Jambo was the last chimp to be born at the zoo.

“It is not uncommon for chimps to continue to have offspring well into their late 40¹s,” McClure explained. “Joice came to ,the zoo in 1995 when the Chimpanzee Forest opened, making her one of the original troop members along with Renee, Bunny and Carole. She is a proven mother and we are happy she is pregnant once again.”

Bunny is one of the least dominant females in the troop. At age 22, she is mostly deaf, with only slight hearing in one ear, but she has adapted well and is an important member of the chimps’ social structure.

“We estimate that Bunny became pregnant in late summer 2011 based on changes in her body and behavior last fall,”  McClure says. “We expect that she will deliver sometime between mid-March and May.”

Joice was recommended to breed by the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, which designates which chimps in the United States should attempt to breed to ensure genetic diversity in the overall population. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when she became pregnant, based on estimated gestation time, she should have her baby sometime in mid-summer.

There are currently eleven chimpanzees in The Maryland Zoo’s troop. They can be seen daily in the Chimpanzee Forest.

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