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September 23, 2020

Utamu: Path to Motherhood Part V

"Lifetime of Care"

 At the Saint Louis Zoo we are dedicated to caring for animals, and that includes providing high quality care throughout their lifetime. For chimpanzees and other apes, this can be quite a long time, and individual animals have different requirements throughout their lives. With a  multi-generational group and preparing for the birth of an infant chimpanzee, the primate care team has to make sure the habitat and care of our chimpanzee group considers each  animal’s unique needs. 

Since our youngest chimpanzee right now is 18, it’s been quite a while since we have had an infant chimpanzee in the group.  With lots of upgrades and changes since then, the primate care team is taking a close look at the habitat to make sure it meets the needs of an infant and growing chimpanzee.  Adult chimps are very agile, great climbers, very strong and intelligent. However, an infant has different needs as it grows and learns so we need to make sure the habitat is not only safe but also that it provides learning and exploration opportunities that are suitable for juvenile chimpanzee. 

We are not just modifying things for the upcoming baby, though. We also have to take into consideration the needs of the older chimpanzees in the group, two of which are close to 50 years old! These older ladies aren’t as spry as they used to be, so we recently upgraded their indoor dayroom habitat to allow for easier climbing, and added resting areas at the different levels. This was an awesome project funded by a generous anonymous donor! While older chimps are still much better climbers than most of us humans could ever be, as they age they may not be able to move around quite as smoothly. We constantly look for ways to ensure the best care for every individual of our chimp troop and their different stages of life!

Continue to follow Utamu: Path to Motherhood at stlzoo.org/utamu to learn more about Utamu’s pregnancy and the work being done by Saint Louis Zoo staff in preparation for the upcoming birth.

Photos:

(1) Beauty. (2) Beauty, Utamu, Jimyu and Tammy. (3) Rosebud and Tammy.