Birth of a chimpanzee
Our group of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) formed last year has a new member! Bamia, 13 years old, has given birth to her first infant, a male, on November 11. He’s doing well but the veterinary team had to supplement his mother with calcium, vitamin D and a plant-based product aimed to stimulate milk production which seemed to be very low.
There was also an additional concern: the baby wasn’t well positioned on his mother’s breast. Indeed, primiparous females (who give birth for the first time) often lack maternal experience and need some time to adjust their behavior. Hence the importance of closely monitoring the mother and the baby during the first days after birth. The keepers were eventually able to see that the infant was suckling and firmly hanging to her mother chest. He’s now a little over a month old but the team remains mindful of his evolution as he seems to grow quite slowly.
There are 4 subspecies of chimpanzee distributed in a little more than 20 African countries. As they have a broad distribution and are relatively adaptable, their habitat varies considerably, from open savanna woodlands to montane tropical forests.
Living in multi-male/multi-female communities sometimes up to a hundred individuals, they feed on fruits, leaves, insects but also on medium-sized mammals hunted cooperatively by the males.
The geographical range of the central chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) covers 7 countries with Gabon, Cameroon and Congo hosting the largest populations. They live mainly in humid lowland rainforests and swampy forests. The total number for this subspecies is probably around 140,000 individuals. It is listed “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
As for the three other subspecies, central chimpanzees are severely threatened by habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat. Infectious diseases (especially Ebola), the illegal trade of juveniles sold to unscrupulous people and climate change (which has consequences on forest productivity), represent important threats as well.
The captive population only numbers about 40 individuals managed in the framework of a European Breeding Program (EEP) since 2015.